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Banning plastic straws: Only the first step

 

When I saw that haunting , viral YouTube video of the poor sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nose, I shuddered.

When I witnessed a Good Samaritan prying the plastic out of the turtle’s nasal cavity, with a pliers no less, my brain and heart hurt.

I was ready to never touch another plastic product again and so it came as no real surprise to me when I saw the first headline touting the ban on plastic straws in America and around the globe.

Finally, the world was realizing just how much damage plastics were doing to marine life and to their communities.

And as the ban picked up steam and more companies and countries got on board, switching out their plastic straws for other variations such as  paper, pasta and even metal, I realized quickly that the focus was on the wrong thing.

It was not about just the plastic straws. That could only be the first step of many to come, if the marine and agricultural life was to continue to thrive.

The real problem with plastic pollution is not just the use of plastic products, but the mindless way in which they are disposed of as well as other trash items and the  harm that occurs as a result

While I am happy that this ban on the straws campaign has taken off, with so many seemingly understanding that their daily actions have far reaching consequences, I am left wondering if this will translate into a decisive progression into taking more responsibility for proper trash disposable strategies.

So while the ban on straws is an amazing start, the campaign must not stop there, rather more people will have to take responsibility for properly disposing of their trash, or risk further poisoning of the planet.

While plastics have had the most media headlines, due to it taking years upon years to break down and the immediate threat it poses to wild and marine life who are vulnerable to choking as they consume it or being entangled within it, other materials also pose a threat.

Trash items such as tires, steel rims and other man made products that are unceremoniously dumped into the oceans, unfortunately can end up in the stomachs of other fishes, sharks and whales.

The oceans are the life blood of the planet — not only do they provide the human population with employment, they also provide nourishment, secure borders and the oxygen needed to fuel all living creatures.

The increasing challenges of climate change, have given rise to more flooding of coastal communities and harsher hurricane seasons, along with less fishing opportunities as marine life seek out calmer waters.  All of these things impact the daily lives of the world.

It is for that reason, that the ban on plastic straws is a great start and it is my hope that this amazing campaign is the first proper step towards a global consciousness more inclined to use less harmful materials in products and to dispose of them in a non toxic way.

Let’s make a pledge to ‘not suck’

It was something I never thought about before — the single use plastic straw. A convenient marvel invented in the 60’s, straws are used in almost every restaurant. They are vital to the industry, right? What’s a milkshake without a classic red and white stripped straw? There is not much thought put into the use of these long plastic tubes, and even less thought put into how they are disposed.

Research conducted by Eco Cycle, one of the largest non-profit recyclers in the United States, shows Americans on average use 500 million straws a day, and I’m sure a similar figure can apply to Canada. From the restaurant industry, bars, and even the cinema, straws are handed out freely. Your standard drink comes with a straw — it’s just a reality.

The plastic drinking straw causes more damage than we can imagine. When improperly disposed, these non-biodegradable items often makes their way to water. Straws can disrupt natural ecosystems in the environment, putting wildlife in danger, and often end up sitting as waste around the city. In the summer of 2015, an Olive Ridley sea turtle had to have a plastic straw removed from its nostril. The straw was only noticed when scientists were collecting data on sea turtles mating. A few months later, in Costa Rica, the same group of scientists had to remove a plastic fork from the nostril of another turtle. The Olive Ridley turtles are relatively average sized turtles with a length of approximately 2 feet and a weight of 100 pounds.

The idea of banning plastic straws is not new and has been buzzing in other countries since 2014.  Certain bars in the United Kingdom have restricted the use of straws and in California there is a strong movement to cleanup plastic straws along the beaches before they end up in the ocean. In August 2017, a group in Peterborough, Ontario is following suit. The Straws Suck campaign is advocating the use of reusable straws and would prefer if residents of Peterborough refuse straws for their drinks.

Jessica Carrera, the founder of an organization called Random Acts of Green, hopes to educate the public about entertaining sustainable options in utensils. According to Carrera, the average “straw life” is a about four minutes, and with 500 million straws used in North America, its harming a lot of animals as well as the environment.

When the numbers are explained in that way, it really makes you wonder why restaurants still provide plastic straws. Our society has become so used to the plastic straw that we automatically use it because it’s given to us. People are conditioned to accept this straw as part of their meal.

Over the years, environmentally-friendly and sustainable acts have been made into legislation, with a ban on plastic water bottles and the charging of fees for plastic grocery bags. Focus has now turned to plastic straws. Toronto bars are making the move to not give out straws with their drinks. You can see more containers on bar tables with straws in them, so users can help themselves if they feel it necessary to get a straw. More businesses that are concerned about conservation are using these methods and promoting social media hashtags such as #refusethestraw or #strawsareforsuckers. There are two bars in downtown Toronto that are participating in this anti- straw movement— The Dakota Tavern and The Gift Shop Cocktail Bar.

Please note this process takes time and even I am guilty of using straws. At this moment, as I am typing this, I’m drinking an iced tea from Aroma. My drink was given with a plastic straw that I unconsciously used and discarded with my cup once I was finished. So what can you do? First you can make a conscious effort to say NO to straws and encourage those around you to do the same. You can also encourage your local businesses to say no to the straw and invest in reusable straws made from paper, stainless steel or even glass. For more details, check out some awesome sites such as strawesome, plasticpollutioncoalition.org, and thelastplasicstraw.org. You can now make an active pledge to not ‘suck.’

Would you wear these clear panel mom jeans?

What has the fashion industry come to? I can sort of understand the distressed-jean look. The frayed-holes-in-the-thighs fad had a little potential in the rock and alternative rock era. But, and as much as I try to review fashion with an open mind,  even I can’t get past the newest denim craze — the clear panel mom jeans.

These retro-style high-waist cropped jeans have a clear plastic rectangle around the knee, allowing your friends, family, and strangers to admire that area of the female body that connects our calves to the rest of our legs. Because, apparently, that is cool.

Topshop clear panel mom jeans

 

This pant, which was released by Topshop, a British fashion retailer that provides clothing to Nordstrom and Hudson’s Bay in Canada, has become an overnight Internet sensation. People are responding with hilarious uses for these “knee windows”, such as using them as message boards or using them to avoid those pesky grass stains. A lot of people questioned the fact that these pants can be washed using a washing machine – but what would happen if you accidentally threw it in the dryer? Would your knee windows melt?

How does Topshop see these jeans? This is what it says on their website beneath a photo for these clear-panel creations: “Off-duty styling never looked so good. Crafted from pure cotton, our MOTO mom jeans come in authentic mid blue rigid-look denim. Cut with a high-waist and a tapered leg, they are finished with multiple pockets, classic trims and cool clear knee panel detail.”

And you can get them for the low-cost of $95!

I’ve stared at these pictures for a solid few hours now and I still don’t get it. Let’s look at the basic facts. The clear panelling disrupts the whole look of the jean. I also imagine they aren’t incredibly comfortable. Have you tried to wear something that is made of plastic? It sticks, makes funny sounds when you move, and is not exactly the most pliable of materials. What happens when you sweat? Topshop claims the paneling adds a “futuristic feel” to the pant, but let’s be real. In the future, I would hope people would be more creative then plastic knee windows.

If it’s meant to be a sexy thing, for people who don’t like the look of their calves but want to show off their awesome knees instead, I think it also fails. The knee isn’t exactly the most sensual part of the body. Yes, in some cases, it is considered one of the erogenous zones on the body, but it’s not going to do much for people simply to look at them, unless you are into that kind of thing.

Ultimately, I think this is an incredible waste of a hundred dollars. As a writer, I wish I had a better word to use than this, but, these jeans are just weird. Hopefully, this is a fad that will come and go. If not…I may have to avoid buying jeans altogether.

 

Do you like this new look? Let us know in the comments below!