in coffee shop the other day. Got a caramel coffee frozen beverage
with extra whipped cream that Terry and I were going to share.
those of you that might not know, paper straws are available in
a lot of places now. And, overall, I applaud the move. Considering
that almost all of them are used once and only once, the waste
created just from straws has to be incredible. We all win by finding
more ways to create improved packaging and items, especially those
with relatively small usage windows.
there are problems. Quality problems.
you ever used a paper straw? The quality—more precisely, often
the lack of quality—involved in the paper straw industry is, often,
discouraging. On this particular day, our straw unraveled on the
first exchange between us. We hadn’t taken more than two sips
out of the cup and we needed another straw. Two ideas immediately
come into play, and a third hovers nearby:
– At what point does the use of a paper straw no longer provide
an environmental benefit as opposed to a plastic straw? Sure,
if we’re just taking straws off the counter, the answer is probably
never. You could pick up more than a thousand paper straws,
and they could still be processed as trash better than a single
plastic straw. I get that. But remember that they need to be
produced. They have to be made. It’s not simply disposal benefits
that have to be weighed here. If I routinely need two or more
straws every time I use paper ones, there could be a point where
I’m not making as significant a gain as it would seem.
– The cup and lid of our thick and frozen beverage was plastic.
Which… yeah… just, yeah.
– This is not our first, second or third difficulty with a paper
don’t want to point the finger at any one business here. There
are plenty of places that aren’t doing anything to improve operations
in an environmentally aware way, so let’s actually give the makes
of our extra caramel in the drizzle concoction a bit of credit.
Offering paper straws is a positive step.
extended, however, the crazy issue remains.
straws? It removes plastic waste. That’s good. It also can place
a higher demand on paper manufacturing, which can mean a need
to cut down more trees, and… well… you may already see where this
is going. Those unintended consequences of my needing a second
straw for my one drink can suddenly begin adding up. If trees
are being planted and steps to reduce waste investigated, fantastic.
But experience tells me that many times things like that aren’t
done and the dirty truths are hidden behind the curtain.
the years, I’ve been in plenty of seminars and training programs
where the fear of change is one of the hot topics of teachable
habits. And raising awareness of that is good. It is absolutely
true that people at times don’t grant something new the opportunity
they should for no better reason than it means an end to the standard
me, I’m not opposed to change. I just want to play devil’s advocate
in the process because I’d like to believe that in developing
something new a bit of thought was given to things like benefits
The way it’s always been done is not an acceptable blanket defense
of how to do it.
true: The way it’s always been done is sometimes the best way
to do it.
want the paper straw.
also want better cups and covers. Ones that hold my beverage,
close securely, and are easy when it comes to disposal.
also want to know the benefits of the paper straw aren’t being
lost in poor manufacturing efforts to produce the straw, or a
shrug of the shoulders because recycling isn’t worth the cost
and effort it requires.
it too much to ask that when it comes to the right thing to do,
we take a moment to look things over and make sure it’s also the
right way to do it? I hope not. But then again, some people don’t
care about the paper straws (or how they’re being made).