Tim Roxborogh asks, who needs stirring straws anyway?
It feels like forever ago that we launched the war on plastic. It's been such a dominant part of our public discourse that surely it has to be longer than July 1 last year that we got rid of single-use plastic bags at supermarkets? Have I been pinged for forgetting my reusable bags for only six months?
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As for plastic straws, Kiwi businesses were so swift at voluntarily ditching them that it's easy to forget it was only 2018 where, arguably, the tipping point — of being an outsider if you still used plastic straws — was reached. Now hardly anywhere in New Zealand has them.
"New Zealand" being the keyword in that previous sentence. On a recent trip to the States, there was barely a beverage ordered that didn't come with those pointless narrow little plastic stirring straws. I never understood those straws even pre straw-wokeness.
If the drink so needed stirring, why not just give it a whirl or two with a spoon before giving it to the customer? And if the purpose of the straw was primarily the delivery of liquid from the glass to the mouth of the consumer, then why were they so gosh-darn un-girthy? Never mind that a fail-safe way to look measurably less masculine was to find yourself absentmindedly crafting a whirlpool in your beverage with a miniature straw while attempting conversation with strangers.
The most jarring mini plastic straw incident in the States a couple of months ago came just before I flew out of JFK Airport in New York. I ordered a cup of tea while my three friends all ordered coffees. Each beverage came with two mini plastic straws or eight for the whole group. And given these are hot drinks, no one's doing any slurping. So no less than eight single-use straws were handed out for the purpose of stirring — a task I'm fairly certain a spoon capable of thousands upon thousands of uses would've been up for.
As of 2018, the UN estimated that by count, plastic straws accounted for 4 per cent of all marine waste in the world. By weight, it was thought that all those straws added up to two million kilograms that were dumped in our planet's oceans every year. I don't know about you, but I'll take no straw or a soggy paper straw over that any day.
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Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at roxboroghreport.com