Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Being 'green'

I'm all about reducing, reusing, and recycling.  I've posted about it several times before.  I believe we can all make a difference with small behavioral changes that aggregate to improve our environment.  But I'm quite skeptical of the recent decision by many restaurants to no longer provide plastic straws with beverages.  The claim is that plastic straws "clog the ocean and hurt fish".

Ideally it would be best if no plastic was allowed to be dumped into our oceans.  But are we really to believe that this 
is somehow worse than this?

Grocery stores and warehouse clubs sell water in plastic bottles by the dozens, by the case, and by the palette.  About 50 billion (not million) plastic water bottles were purchased last year just in the US. These bottles are far larger and make far more ocean pollution than straws, yet somehow restaurants have singled out straws.  Could there be another reason that has nothing to do with altruism?

How about the fact that restaurants can claim to be 'environmentally friendly' by not providing plastic straws when in reality they are simply saving the money they used to spend to buy them?

The way I see it, the problem isn't plastic straws, water bottles, or grocery store bags.  The problem is our behavior.  We must choose to be responsible with our treatment of plastics, recycling all of them after using them.

But ocean pollution from plastics isn't just a 'USA' problem, its a world problem.  While the USA and some other countries have recycling programs in place, there are plenty of countries that do not, yet they are still consumers of plastic products.  With no recycling opportunities these plastics go into landfills and oceans.  

Obviously its a complex issue that will take effort and cost from all humans to solve.  I hope its an issue that will get worldwide attention soon, but in the meantime, I am skeptical of restaurants who single out straws as somehow making them environmentally responsible.  

What about the styrofoam and plastic "to go" boxes restaurants use for left-overs?

What about the small plastic cups with lids that mayo, ketchup, tartar sauce, and cocktail sauce are often provided in?

If restaurants really want to be environmentally friendly wouldn't they stop using those containers too?  Outback Steakhouse provides those condiments in washable, reusable stainless steel cups so its definitely possible.

By not providing straws are restaurants being 'green' or saving green?

I guess we have to start somewhere.


anne marie in philly said...

up here, the take-away containers are now made from a recyclable material; I believe they are a #4 (plastic ranges from 1-7); just wash and put in the recycle bin!

Frank said...

Just saw a news report about recycling centers having nowhere to send their plastics and other materials because China, where it all used to go, is no longer taking it.