Editor’s Note: No, this isn’t The Onion, and yes, you are looking at a real news story. Students in Kelley Crawford’s Alternative Journalism class at Tulane University dove into the archives of the Times-Picayune to find some shinning star articles. Everything from people having snakes in their bellies to a man becoming a human torch will be covered in the series, “From Clips to Clicks.” Each weekly post will display the original piece from the Times-Picayune (the “clips”), and then the written text will either be a modern adaptation or a commentary on the piece that’s published on ViaNolaVie (the “clicks”).
While it may seem comical that a can opener would be newsworthy, Hope Abbot puts this focus in context with a rewrite about…the plastic straw.
Straws Just Plain Suck
With the state of the environment degrading as quickly as it has been, it is entirely possible that by 2021, the plastic straw will have completely lost its place in the modern cup. The fate of on-the-go sippers and suckers directly coincides with that of sea turtles, and the rapid disappearance of these majestic swimmers suggests a rather soon doom for the plastic straw.
Such convenient consumption of a beverage requires the use of harmful plastic material that often ends up contaminating the bodies of water that are home to a vast number of aquatic species. In lieu of littering the oceans and inherently killing a disturbing proportion of marine life, producers of straws are exploring other means of creating tubular sucking devices, for example with the use of paper or cardboard. These more eco-friendly and biodegradable options are a step in the right directions, but much like they disintegrate in the ocean after just a short period of time, they also are decomposing in people’s drinks and become nonfunctional. We know, it sucks.
Other companies have introduced silicone or metal reusable straws. Apart from the responsibility involved in having to clean these more permanent alternatives, they seem to be satisfying the needs of those who utilize them.
That said, plastic straws are still in circulation for those restaurants and consumers who deem their drinks important enough to put the lives of countless sea turtles’ lives at risk. In order to justify this “shelfishness,” proponents of plastic straws use the statistic that of the eight million tons of plastic that enter the waterways each year, straws are just one fortieth of a percent (0.025) of this load (National Geographic). However, every little bit of prevention helps; thus, in 2021, society ought to only use plastic when and where it absolutely necessary.