As you likely know by now, I’ve committed to eliminating straws from my life in 2018 (and hopefully, beyond) to help reduce single-use plastic and its devastating effect on our environment, including birds. To date, there are more than 35 straws I have not used, whether for take-out drinks, that one strawberry shake that was a soothing treat when I had a vicious cold, restaurant drinks or fresh-squeezed lemonade from vendors at craft fairs. I admit that my count hasn’t been 100 percent accurate as I occasionally don’t update after every straw, but I do try to keep it as close as possible. As the total grows, I’m truly startled and ashamed at how many straws I would have been using but I’m more ashamed of four straws than those 35-plus.
Those four straws are the Straws of Shame.
They’re straws I’ve chosen to use, despite this commitment. Straws I could have turned away or not used, could have said no to, could have refused. Instead, however, I deliberately opted to unwrap, put in a drink and pucker up to four straws.
- One was used at a dinner with an out-of-town guest who was unaware of my commitment, and at the time I thought it too cumbersome to explain my preference to not have a straw.
- Two were used for drinks that were to be taken into a moving vehicle, and it was more convenient to use a straw than to waste the drink by tossing it or risking spillage.
- One was just laziness on my part, after a difficult and stressful day when I was too mired in self-pity and just wanted to take the easy way (hence the take-out dinner).
Yes, I puckered up to those straws, but it was a sour taste indeed when I did so. I ought to have explained to my guest about the choice to avoid straws; she’s compassionate and wouldn’t have thought anything of it, and indeed it is a lost opportunity when I could have shared my ideas and perhaps have the same commitment taken up by one more person. The others, while different circumstances, could easily have been mitigated by reusable straws, which is another part of this project that I need to embrace. There are many different reusable straws available, and if I’d had them already on hand, those shameful straws could have been avoided. That will be a step coming up in the next few weeks – trying out different reusable straws to recommend the top varieties and commit to using them whenever a straw simply can’t be avoided.
It is interesting to see how much straws have permeated our lives and our culture, but while I may be ashamed of the straws I have opted to use, I will clearly state that no server at any restaurant has ever made an issue of it – I simply say “No straws, please” and they’re perfectly content to take away the straws. The shame is mine, the weakness is mine, and I own it.
Time to own some reusable straws; stay tuned for updates on which ones work best!