New plastic straw ban in DC is counter-productive

The straw– a simple yet brilliant invention. According to BuzzFeed, each day Americans use about 170-390 million drinking straws, making it a staple of almost everyone’s lives. Starbucks, Disney, San Francisco, Seattle and now DC have decided to ban plastic straws as an attempt to stop the flow of plastic into oceans, which has a detrimental effect on marine life.

Plastic straws are being replaced by paper straws, which are five or six times more expensive, causing many businesses costs to increase as well as their profits declining.

Also, they simply don’t work. Ask anyone who’s tried a paper straw. Most likely, the feedback will be negative. Who would want a straw that becomes soggy and practically unusable after a couple sips along with making one’s beverage taste like paper?

But, if we focus this issue on a local scale, the actual environmental effects of plastic straws are irrelevant to the larger garbage problem that the metro area faces. The 2.7 billion dollar D.C. Water Project has spanned decades and, in a recent clean up of the Anacostia River, collected 35 tons of trash. Out of those 35 tons, 4,000 plastic straws were found (about 4 pounds). That’s 1/18,000 of the trash found. Many other plastic products were found in significantly greater numbers, therefore having a more substantial impact on the river.

Wouldn’t it be ironic to drink from a plastic cup with a paper straw? Many who advocate against plastic straws neglect the fact that the rise in production of paper straws would kill a ton of trees, being even more counterproductive the environmentally aware agenda.

Yet, plastic waste is a huge problem for the world’s oceans. Millions of tons are dumped into them annually. While America is a part of that problem, it is not even remotely close to the countries that dump the most plastic into the ocean. China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam all dump more than the rest of the world does combined! Yet, environmental activists seem to not pay attention to the bigger picture and offer some sort of solution to try and curb any of these countries negative impact on the environment, like boycotts of certain goods from China that are made in a way that harms the environment.

With all these countries producing so much garbage, it overwhelms the American output in the oceans internationally and makes it relatively insignificant.

Nationally the American litter problem is serious and should be addressed in an effective manner. All Americans should want their parks, rivers and wildlife to be litter free. But, the National Park Service removed trash cans from parks across the country for beautification purposes. This inevitably will cause more litter, which will ultimately end up in our rivers and of course then the oceans, adding to this compounding issue. Even in Ocean Beach in San Francisco, trash cans were removed from the beach because the National Park Service took two hours to empty them. Their spokesman said they were trying to “save staff time”.

This trend of environmental agencies and famous environmentalists adding to the problems they claim they are trying to fix makes the whole movement counterproductive. This also should irritate normal Americans who will get scolded by these same people, claiming they are the ones at fault for the plethora of environmental problems that face the US. Lawmakers now think that banning plastic straws will help the environment even though the federally funded programs don’t help.