I’d like to commend the Mountain Brauhaus restaurant for their effort to phase out the use of plastic drinking straws. I dined there with friends recently; It was my first visit to the Brauhaus, and in addition to the delicious food and the great service, our group was pleasantly surprised to find a note attached to the menu stating their decision to offer plastic straws only upon request.
Plastic straws may seem like a minor thing to worry about, and given the magnitude of our environmental challenges, this gesture might seem insignificant. But as the Brauhaus’s note indicates, “Plastic drinking straws are a huge source of waste. 500 million straws are used [and discarded] every day in the U.S. alone.” These straws, like other plastic waste, often end up polluting our countrysides, cities, and waterways where they harm plant and animal life. If that wasn’t cause enough to abandon them, single-use plastics are almost always manufactured from fossil fuels. Some people, the disabled especially, might really need a straw for drinking, but the majority of people can access liquids just fine without one. Why do we create so much waste- waste of resources, waste of energy, waste of the environment- for something most of us can live without? Moving away from the use of plastic straws is one important step of many towards our healthy and sustainable future.
I notice a shift happening in the public consciousness. It seems it’s time for all of us to think deeply about the luxuries that we take for granted in our wealthy, modern lives- to consider where these luxuries come from, to investigate their consequences, and to ask whether we might find ourselves and our environment healthier without them.