I was on a date at a brewery a few weeks ago. It was a first date with a very cute engineer and I was quite exited. We’d each had a couple beers when I asked for a water- no straw. When the bartender brought over my pint glass of water, I pulled my To-Go Ware cutlery set out of my pocketbook and grabbed a reusable straw that I’d stashed inside my zero waste pouch. The look on Mr. Engineer’s face was somewhere between incredulity and amusement- you’d have thought that I showed him I had an extra head or two! Looking back on the short-lived relationship, pulling out a reusable straw in public was the first nail in my dating coffin for this particular man.
This story isn’t going to be about not letting your ‘eco warrior’ freak flag fly- because I am all about that and your planet needs you! But rather, it is about how awkward, simple conversations can lead to change. My straw was a conversation starter. He did start out with the “are you a ‘save the turtle’ kind of girl?” Which, yes, 100% save the turtles, but that’s not all of what the #lowwaste and #zerowaste movements are about. The earth is in crisis and the human race is at fault, but we are fully capable of changing the course of history so our sick planet can thrive once again. And it is up to each and every one of us.
Eco Warriors- one reusable straw at a time
Throughout our conversation he asked if ‘one straw really would make a difference’ which is a statement I hear all the time, so in order to cater to his engineer sensibility I brought math into the equation (very impressed with the pun I just made there. *Toots my own horn*) When you look at the sheer number of human beings on this planet it is over seven billion. That is NINE zeros. Now truly lowballing numbers here, say 25% of that number has access to single use plastic straws. And of that 25, 20% use their straws for only one use. With those low numbers we still have 350 million straws headed to the landfill even if each of those humans only uses one. If we can change just 1% of those minds we save 3,500,000 straws. Now, that’s a lot of straws.
So, then comes the statement “but I always throw my straws in the trash! There’s no way that they will make it to the ocean.” And yes, you can throw straws away, but aside from creating unnecessary landfill waste, not all straws make it to the landfill. I was recently on work trip to California and I spend a couple of hours on my first day walking on the quiet winter sunshine on Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach just south of Los Angeles. Trash was everywhere, so I decided to set a specific area of the beach to look at. I looked at the map on my phone and chose from the beach entrances between 18th Street to 24th Street. As I walked the beach I picked up every straw I saw. In those six blocks I picked up sixty-seven straws. That’s more than eleven straws on the beach per block I walked. We can do better than that and it is as simple as carrying a reusable straw.
Now, after a few weeks, Mr. Engineer ‘broke up’ with me for, I kid you not, ‘our lifestyles being incompatible’ because mine was too healthy. (I’m seriously not kidding- that’s a WHOLE other issue.) But that goes to show you even the most nonbelievers in the low and zero waste movement are capable of having conversations and opening their eyes to small changes. If each one of us of the card carrying members of the ‘save the turtles’ club starts one awkward conversation by carrying a reusable straw (men, you’re in this too! There are collapsible straws that can fit in your front pocket!) we can change the world, even if it means that I am still very single.
I’d love to know- what little changes in your life are you making to positively impact the planet? Let me know either your changes or your silliest dating story over on my Instagram!
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