Straws aren’t enough

Banning straws to cut down on plastic waste started on Earth Day this year, as a way to help the planet. Now Starbucks and other restaurants are joining in by banning plastic straws.

This is small gesture in the face of a huge problem with plastic, and it reflects a lack of effort in wanting to really make a difference. It’s a serious problem, and we need to suck it up (not using a straw, though) and work harder to avoid plastics in our daily lives.

What was life like before that famous line in the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” when a family friend offers Dustin Hoffman’s character advice: “There’s a great future in plastics”? We didn’t have plastic straws; we had paper straws. We didn’t drink out of plastic bottles; we drank from a paper Dixie cups, or straight from the hose. We didn’t have our food encased in plastic; we had wax or butcher paper. We didn’t have plastic bags for carrying our groceries; we had paper bags.

Yes, things have changed, but there is hope if we want to change for the better — and consequences if we don’t. Those include islands of plastic garbage floating in our oceans and an overabundance of BPA, one of many manmade chemicals classified as endocrine disruptors, which at high levels alter the body’s natural hormones and can also harm fish and other aquatic animals.

So let’s make a real difference for our health and our environment. Why not avoid buying things packaged in plastic? Voice your concern to the businesses or companies who don’t give an option. Then when you must use plastic, make sure that it is a least reusable or recyclable.