The last straw? If only.

On the plastic drinking straws ban:

At the center of these conversations is a statistic: Each day, Americans use an estimated 500 million straws. The number has been used to illustrate the scale of the issue and modern society’s reliance on this ubiquitous piece of disposable plastic.

It turns out, however, that the number is imprecise and originates from Milo Cress, a young environmentalist who researched straw usage to come up with the 500 million estimate when he was just nine years old.

As a curious fourth grader who had just started an environmental project to discourage restaurants from providing straws by default, Cress decided to look online to find out how many straws are used each day in the United States. Not being able to find any statistics, he called straw manufacturers directly and estimated the 500 million figure based on numbers they provided him.

What I find most annoying is that the dubious origin of this figure has been known for well over a year, but rarely gets mentioned by those pushing for a ban on plastic straws. Of course, there’s a reason for this: banning plastic straws in developed countries is nothing to do with saving the environment and everything to do with quasi-religious virtue-signalling and prod-nosed busy-bodying. As we’ve seen elsewhere, the pious middle classes have seized upon a product they don’t use and called for it to be banned in order to smooth their passage to whatever they consider an afterlife. Note they don’t campaign for disposable nappies to be banned.

Religious fervour often causes people to behave strangely, and in this regard Californians are trying to outdo everyone else:

The city of Santa Barbara has passed an ordinance that will allow restaurant employees to be punished with up to six months of jail time or a $1,000 fine after a second offense of giving plastic straws to their customers.

The bill was passed unanimously last Tuesday, and covers bars, restaurants, and other food-service businesses. Establishments will still be allowed to hand out plastic stirrers, but only if customers request them.

And as the article points out:

Oh, and each individual straw counts as a separate infraction, meaning that if someone got busted handing out straws to a table of four people, he or she could end up facing years behind bars.

Bear in mind that California recently decriminilised the act of knowingly infecting a partner with HIV, several cities have refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and areas of San Francisco have turned into third-world slums festooned with used needles and human shit.

This business with the drinking straws isn’t an isolated incident, but part of a pattern which can be seen elsewhere. The ruling classes have neither the competence or incentive to tackle serious problems so instead involve themselves with initiatives which solve nothing but make them look useful. They’re further encouraged by a noisy minority of virtue-signalling puritans, almost all of whom work in government, media, or for corporations firmly engaged in moral posturing. In the case of the plastic in the oceans, part of the problem is western countries deciding landfill is evil so encouraging everyone to recycle. Only to get around their own environmental legislation the bulk plastic is shipped to Asia, where a lot of it ends up horsed in the river. Rather than examine their own stupid rules, or put pressure on Africans and Asians to stop chucking crap in the sea, it’s easier to launch social media campaigns clamouring for new laws which further criminalise ordinary people for mundane behaviour. Never mind disabled people rely on plastic drinking straws to consume fluids, as far as Metropolitan mothers groups on Facebook are concerned, they’ll just have to manage somehow.

I see a parallel here with the ludicrous campaign to ban upskirting. This was pushed by privileged middle class women and will consume considerable government resources which could better be spent elsewhere. Like putting a stop, once and for all, to the systematic and widespread abuse of vulnerable young girls in provincial English towns, for instance. Yes, this is still going on and nobody is interested, in part because inconvenient voices are handily drowned out by women demanding special laws because a drunken oaf supposedly took a photo up someone’s skirt in a festival. There is subset of western society which believes the role of government is to intervene on every minor issue over which they wring their hands, no matter how ignorant they are of it. Judging by my own social media feed, a lot this stuff seems to be driven by bored men and women who, lacking the time, talent, or discipline for a proper hobby, jump on these campaigns to give themselves a sense of purpose. Yet at the same time there is far less pressure to solve problems which are certain to have catastrophic consequences: mass immigration, uncontrollable public spending, unaffordable housing, and dangerous social divisions.

It’s often said that a sign of country undergoing improvement is a growing middle class. What I think we’re seeing now is what happens when the middle classes get too big and too comfortable for too long. It won’t end well.

Liked it? Take a second to support Tim Newman on Patreon!
Share

20 thoughts on “The last straw? If only.

  1. What we are afflicted by is a large number of people with nothing meaningful to do, no meaningful accomplishments, and possessed of money and liesure that they entirely take for granted.
    Hence we have calls for the installation of communism from affluent people who would probably be seen as the enemy by any actual communist regime, and would certainly wind up poorer and with less liesure as would everyone else.
    We hear calls for ever cleaner air and water as though the tiniest impurity was lethal.
    We are lectured about the use of fossil fuels by people who travel lots and certainly don’t freeze in the winter.
    We hear calls for recycling everything from people who would not accept a second hand car, never mind second hand clothes.
    It seems many of them need to be helping someone and would be absolutely miserable if they couldn’t find a problem.
    Perhaps the answer is to re-found the empire and send these people forth to solve the problems of Africa. There are plenty of problems for them there. Should keep them out of mischief for a lifetime.

  2. It becomes religious in the same way as people turning up to church to be seen. Or a generation ago, going to the theatre. Now, it’s eco-twattery and Glastonbury.

    It’s all just virtue signalling. People love this sort of pathetic environmentalism that on the one hand shows they care, but on the other requires no sacrifice, no effort and makes no difference. You really want to be environmentally friendly? Get a lift share to work or switch to bus or bike. Lag your loft. Wear a sweater at home and turn down the heating a little. Everything else is either hard to reduce (we all need to wash clothes and cook) or makes fuck all difference (drinking straws, food miles).

  3. What does “lag your loft” mean?

    I’m so old I remember paper straws. Lunch counters, like at Woolworth’s, used them. They’re fine. (I do agree the plastic straw menace is ridiculous.)

  4. “lag your loft” means putting insulation in the roof of a house. Simply, the best environmental/energy/money saver around.

  5. … young environmentalist who researched straw usage to come up with the 500 million estimate when he was just nine years old.

    …Not being able to find any statistics, he called straw manufacturers directly and estimated the 500 million figure based on numbers they provided him.

    Mmhmm…sure he did. As you do when you are nine years old.

  6. Leftist shite infiltrates society –targeted at the middle class.

    We should have smashed the long haired cunts of the Sixties. They are the source of today’s malaise.

  7. I blame Twitter/the internet. Time was if you had something stupid to say you said it to your mates, who promptly forgot it. Now it all gets written down (and kept forever) and broadcast to all the other idiots, and suddenly you’ve got a groundswell and a campaign and a political constituency.

    I think we should get back to yakking our blather into the aether, and save the internet for solid gold comments like this one.

    And another thing: down under (and perhaps elsewhere) it’s actually the state-owned broadcaster, i.e. the preferred telescreen channel for middle-class wankers, who’s been pushing this. They’ve been on a tear about plastics all year; they’ve even had a whole show devoted to it, hosted by one of those twats from the Chaser.

    We’re paying the government to convince itself to ban something we find useful. Why don’t we cut out the middle man and just kick ourselves directly in the nadgers?

  8. Tim,

    Some very interesting comments about the middle classes and the problems confronting contemporary society.

    But returning to the matter in hand – plastic straws – how do they do it? Even six months ago, no-one thought much about them. You probably got one if you ordered a cold drink and that was about it. Now they are perceived as a threat to the planet and communities everywhere are seeking to ban them. How is this possible? Why is the city of Santa Barbara – and countless other communities – bothering itself with plastic straws? Why is it acquiescing to these people’s demands? Why doesn’t the city commission, or whoever is in charge there, just tell them to take a long walk of a short pier?

    The worst of it is, this won’t be the end of it. Each environmental demand which is met only produces another demand. I wonder what they will seek to ban next?

  9. Pretty much everything in life comes with a whole bunch of pros and cons. Some of those are pros or cons are environmental. Even the winningest of ideas comes with some cons attached, if only the opportunity costs of implementing it (what else could one have done with the same effort, time and money?). As BoM4 says, insulating your home has a particularly good ratio of pro to con, but the Australians even managed to cock that one up into a major national scandal.

    Can’t recommend Schrodinger’s dog’s comment highly enough – “how do they do it? Even six months ago, no-one thought much about them”… wish I knew the answer. I mean it could have been anything – there’s absolutely nothing special about plastic straws, because everything has pros and cons.

    We could have had a “scandal” about those little plastic windows on business letter envelopes that let you read the address on the letter. Or a “scandal” about the existence of biros, when fountain pens exist and aren’t disposable. Or a “scandal” about new shoes coming with new shoelaces instead of encouraging you to reuse the shoelaces from your existing shoes. Ditto, when you buy a new shirt, why aren’t you expected to sew on the buttons from your previous shirt? Buttons are plastic, after all.

    So, why this? Why now? Did it happen “by accident” – an essentially random wave of social media virality that just so happened to pick up this particular issue? Or is it a concerted agenda that has picked plastic straws as this year’s fighting ground, with greater plans for 2019?

    (To be fair to them, the BBC has run reports pointing out that some groups, e.g. the disabled, actually rely on plastic drinking straws and taken a more critical look at the widely quoted statistics.)

  10. I agree that the faux outrage about plastic straws fall into the category of “Oh, look. A pony!” type distraction to stop people thinking about matters that will adversely affect them or end up getting them killed.

    But setting aside the 500 million, billion, trillion, gazillion planet destroying plastic straws that are used every second (or something along those lines), banning them might actually INCREASE plastic usage:

    https://reason.com/blog/2018/07/12/starbucks-straw-ban-will-see-the-company

    The takeaway quote from the article above is this:

    As it turns out, the new nitro lids that Starbucks is leaning on to replace straws are made up of more plastic than the company’s current lid/straw combination.

    Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.

    (I got these results by measuring Starbucks’ plastic straws and lids on two separate scales, both of which gave me the same results.)

    This means customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks’ strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink. Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller nitro lids, Starbucks’ plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it’s anybody’s guess as to how much.

    But think of the CHILDREN!!!! and the dolphins, turtles and the lesser spotted bobolink in outer Siberia … or some other scaremongering excuse. I carefully select the term Fuckwit to describe these people as it is nearest to how I feel about them and has the advantage of being succinct enough to convey the concept.

  11. “Bear in mind that California:”

    -is locked in for a future of critical energy shortages.

    “These are electricity markets. There’s no guarantee that everybody will be successful,” Picker said in an interview with The Desert Sun.

    https://www.desertsun.com/story/tech/science/energy/2018/05/08/california-risking-another-energy-crisis/586750002/

    On a brighter note at least the new US EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler will continue with the many breakthroughs made by the more controversial Scott Pruitt.

  12. Even six months ago, no-one thought much about them.

    A friend is an eco-ponce, and has been waffling on about plastic in the ocean for a couple of years. So I suppose the environmentalists have been plugging away and finally broke through?

    Agree though that it’s weird that it came out of nowhere

  13. Yes, I pointed out the issue of disabled people and straws a while back. Still, Proggies have form for throwing groups under the bus when it suits them.

    The first arrest and trial of a waiter giving a straw to someone who cannot use their arms should be an interesting one.

  14. It turns out, however, that the number is imprecise and originates from Milo Cress, a young environmentalist who researched straw usage to come up with the 500 million estimate when he was just nine years old

    Progressive Science in a nutshell.

  15. Here in Cyprus the plastic bag ban from July 1st seems to have been the catalyst to move onto straws… No doubt once straws are banned they will move onto something else.

    Sadly the sheeple are completely brainwashed. It is impossible to convince them of the way by which a straw from the local taverna might end up in the ocean…

  16. So, why this? Why now?

    David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 must shoulder a large share of the blame.

  17. “They’re further encouraged by a noisy minority of virtue-signalling puritans, almost all of whom work in government, media, or for corporations firmly engaged in moral posturing. ”

    Oh, I think you’re underestimating there. These virtue signalling moralists are quite thick in our society over all. Many having been properly trained by our education and entertainment media to react and even over react to the slightest non-PC perception. It’s an escalator to higher status. Thus it is quite appealing to the young and the status conscious over all. And there’s a lot of those monkeys.

  18. It actually highlights the bizarre situation when environmental policy, lawmaking and the way society operates is dictated by the “research” of a nine year old.

Comments are closed.