Big Gulp

Straws: Consumption Technology Circling the Earth

Drinking Straws InfographicApparently, we’re filling oceans and landfills with enough plastic drinking straws to circle the earth twice (and then some) every day. Why do we suck so much? Because we can. Those plastic tubes empower us to suck up caloric liquids everywhere, all the time. All other thoughts fade away. Mmmmm. Ahhhh.

It’s the pause that refreshes. (Thanks, Coke.)

Growing Wider with Us

Writing in the Washington Post a few years ago, John Kelly pointed to a neglected milestone in obesity – the emergence of fat drinking straws. It started in 1988. McDonald’s needed them for their extra-thick milkshakes and they became the standard.

Now we have sizes ranging from milk straws (0.15 inch diameter) to colossal (0.47 inch). With three times wider tubes, we can effortlessly suck many times more fluid calories per second.

Straws from Here to Eternity

OK, we know what you’re thinking. These things are just tools. By themselves, they can’t be the cause of all this extra obesity. And of course you’re right. They just make it easier.

But environmentalists tell us we have another problem with these lovely plastic tubes. After we’re done with sucking on them, the tubes are not done with our planet. They stick around in landfills or float out to sea. Straws make up a substantial portion of those floating rafts of debris clogging the ocean. They wind up in a viral YouTube video of an endangered sea turtle.

So maybe we should #StopSucking. Instead, sit down and sip. Without a straw.

Click here, here, and here for more from the Washington Post. For more from the WorldWatch Institute, click here.

Big Gulp, photograph © Shelly Munkberg / flickr

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November 12, 2017

One Response to “Straws: Consumption Technology Circling the Earth”

  1. November 13, 2017 at 7:57 am, Kathryn Kelly said:

    Paper straws used to be the norm, let’s bring them back!