This morning I read a news article that really pissed me off. This is something that happens many times most days, but this specific one just annoyed me because it seems so very stupid.
The article was about the fact that McDonald’s in the UK has replaced their plastic straws with paper ones. Rather than being happy about the fact that they are not using something that is about to be thrown away and just float around the ocean or wherever else it ends up for the next 400 years, some people are complaining. 35,000 people feel strongly enough to have signed a petition asking for the paper straw roll-out to be stopped because the straws don’t last long enough and dissolve in their drinks or affect the taste a bit.
If those are real problems then clearly there is a bit of a quality issue with the particular straws they are using and that is not great.
Why do we need straws in these drinks anyway? How difficult is it really to lift off the lid (which also doesn’t need to be there if you are drinking in rather than taking it out) and just drink from the cup?
It’s not hard, you don’t need a plastic straw or a paper one, most people have hands with which they can lift a cup and a mouth cleverly designed to enable you to drink from a larger vessel.
Sometimes the answer is not just to make things out of materials that are perceived to be more environmentally friendly, but maybe that we simply don’t need to make this stuff at all.
If you really really feel that you must suck your drink through a straw then there is a simple solution to that, buy a reusable one and take it with you. There are many different varieties available at very little cost, made from bamboo or metal or assorted other things.
A plastic drinking straw is a little thing, each one only weighs about 0.42 grams. Although they are small Mcdonald’s in the UK alone uses (or used) 1.8 million of them each day. By my maths that makes just under 276,000 KG of plastic a year, which is a lot of plastic trash by any kind of measure.
In comparison to the amount of plastic we make, buy, use and throw away globally it is virtually nothing, but still this move by McDonald’s is a commendable one. You can choose to question the motivation behind it and many people will, but it is very hard to see it as a bad thing.
I have singled out McDonald’s here but they are not the only company doing this. Pret, Costa, Wetherspoons, Pizza Express and others have already taken this action and well done to all of them!
The 35,000 people who have signed this stupid petition and whoever else thinks that the straw they really don’t need not lasting as long as they would like is a major issue, really not so well done at all.