Some entrepreneurs have invented something they believe will keep 560 straws per person out of the landfill each year. They started a kickstarter with a goal of twelve thousand bucks and have raised, as of today, nearly 1.9 million.
Something is terribly wrong.
Let's look at this from a broader perspective; one that considers history. The straw was invented in 1888 by Marvin Stone. In 1937, the bendy straw was invented by Joseph B. Friedman. In the 1960’s, straws became plastic instead of paraffin-coated paper. I learned all that here.
Now let’s pull back a bit. Humans have been drinking (with and without straws) for about 200,000 years (as long as we’ve been in existence). We’ve had straws for about 120 years. They’ve been plastic for about 60 years. We know that this petroleum-based product (plastic) basically never goes away. That’s a huge problem.
We started using straws, not because it solved a problem, but because it made a thing that humans had totally mastered (drinking) marginally more convenient.
Now we have a culture with an expectation that every time you enjoy a beverage, you need a disposable device that never goes away to consume it. In recognition of this conundrum, we gave nearly 1.9 million bucks to some folks who made a reusable straw.
A reusable straw is better than throwing one away every time you have a drink. But, the whole thing remains problematic because it reinforces the idea that caused the problem in the first place: That there is a PROBLEM with drinking that needs to be solved.
When this occurred to me a few weeks ago, I decided to stop using straws and see if my life fell apart. Surprisingly, it didn’t. In fact, it was enriched because I discovered that not only do I not need straws (not to sound too cocky, but I already knew that), I also don’t need lids on my drinks. And the best part is the freedom that comes from realizing how little we actually need in our world to be happy. I’m also now more congruent with my own beliefs and that I’ve eliminated the need for another item in my life and hopefully starting a bit of a conversation.
I've found that freedom comes not from having more, but needing less. Surprisingly opposite the more common notion that having more makes you more free.
We don’t need reusable straws. We need to need less.
If you spent 5 minutes reading this, 5 children died because they didn’t have access to clean drinking water. 1.9 million bucks (the current total on Kickstarter for these asinine reusable straws) would (according to a website) build 237 wells in Africa.