Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Drinking Responsibly Paper, Metal, Plastic Straws All Possess Unique Pros, Cons

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Drinking Responsibly Paper, Metal, Plastic Straws All Possess Unique Pros, Cons

Article excerpt

An early indication that plastic straws had become verboten in certain circles was when a fashion magazine I receive (with no discernible impact) promoted a tiny, expensive purse as the perfect size for a cellphone, lip gloss and "stainless steel straw."

What? I'm supposed to be carrying my own straw? Made of . steel?

That's a trendy response to the growing problem of single-use plastics littering our streets, beaches and oceans. My response? I drink with my mouth. Right on the cup or glass. Isn't that part of the pleasure?

Given my preference, it's been easy for me to inveigh recently against our consumerist society's wanton use of plastics. A rare instance of my being in sync with pop culture's outrage du jour, it's how I happened to notice that other Americans are not heeding my wisdom but are in fact moving in quite different directions.

Like Donald Trump. And advocates for the disabled. And health watchdogs. The controversy over the simple drinking straw serves as a relatively lightweight reminder of how the definition of virtue varies more widely than today's culture-warrior bullies could ever admit.

On the rare occasions when I need a straw and have a choice, I opt for paper; but irritation with a broken paper straw and spilled drink prompted a Trump campaign staffer to create Trump-branded plastic straws - red, of course - to sell as swag. They debuted on July 19 and raised almost $500,000 in 10 days.

A snarky piece on Salon.com proclaimed, "New frontiers in sucking: Why is the Trump campaign selling plastic straws?" and answered its own question thus: "The right's bizarre plastic-straw fetish is about making a lack of empathy central to conservative identity."

We all know that Mr. Trump enjoys yanking any available chain, to put it kindly, but what if it's actually the no-plastic position that lacks empathy? There are quite a few essays online asserting that sturdy plastic straws are the only way people with certain disabilities can drink without assistance and therefore enjoy meals in restaurants. …

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