Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Last Straw...

Top of the afternoon everyone...

I had trouble deciding on the title of this blog entry. It was either going to be the title I used, or something along the lines of "Still Trying Not to Become a Right Wing Zealot." "The Elephant in the Room" was also a possibility. It was a difficult choice.

We are all aware that plastic straws are the latest concern in the global war on climate change. Putting aside all of the questions that might develop from the sentence above, perhaps there is some merit. The use of non-biodegradable products with such limited usability is not good for the environment. It is also not good for the wallet. That being said, I do not believe for even an instant that banning plastic straws, which comprise 0.025% of the 8,000,000 tons of plastic that end up in our oceans, will have the tiniest effect on climate change (please note that I am not defining climate change in any way. There is no consensus on exactly what it is, let alone what causes it).

With such concern about this environmental scourge, many cities are banning the use of plastic straws. The Trudeau government wishes to ban them for Canada as of 2021. Here in Toronto, Yorkdale Mall will commence its ban in October.

Let us clarify some numbers. As mentioned, straws comprise 0.025% of the 8,000,000 metric tons of plastic that ends up in our oceans. 8,000,000 x 0.025% = 8,000,000 x 0.00025 = 2000. 2000 metric tons of plastic straws get into our oceans each year. I agree. This is a problem.

Again though, we ignore the elephant in the room. A study from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the world's waters per year. That works out to approximately 765436 metric tons.

765436/2000...that means that the gross tonnage of cigarette butts in our oceans outweighs the gross tonnage of plastic straws by a factor of more than 380. And the number of poisons in those cigarette butts is also not easily discounted. Here is the link to the NIH study: There were too many poisons to list in this blog entry.

Henceforth, I will avoid the use of plastic straws. Is there perhaps one smoker out there who will avoid the use of cigarettes in return? Henceforth, I will avoid the use of plastic straws. In return, is there one politician willing to consider and react to the environmental lethality of tobacco?

Have a good day folks.



  1. The whole debate about straw usage is a good start, but an outright ban is going too far. Not everyone uses a straw and there are better alternatives when it comes to straws if you must use one (i.e. paper straws). I think the better discussion would be the education of plastic usage in general. Is there a way to recycle plastics and/or use them for something else? I mean isn't that what the whole point of the Blue Box program was? Banning people from using plastics is not feasible and will lead to people hoarding stuff. Plus it will put companies out of business and workers out of a job.

    Now I agree with you 100% about cigarette butts. They are full of bad chemicals...don't get me started about the dangers of smoking. Now that's something that should be banned outright, but again not feasible because governments make so much money from tobacco and alcohol sales. They would never go along with banning either. Humans are messy people and we produce a lot of garbage. It's how we deal with the garbage that needs to be better figured out.

  2. In the interest of further clarifying some numbers, might I add that Justin Trudeau said, in justifying the forthcoming ban, that Canadians throw away 57 million straws a day. Considering Canada has a population of 37 million, that number seems quite extraordinary. One might ask where he came up with that figure, after all, the Liberal party’s website ( says this:

    "Government should base its policies on facts, not make up facts based on policy. Without evidence, government makes arbitrary decisions that have the potential to negatively affect the daily lives of Canadians."

    So where did the “57 million” come from?

    The City of Vancouver published a report entitled “Single Use Item Reduction Strategy 2018-2025”. You can find the report here:

    If you scroll down to the bottom of page 2 of that report (the standard page 2, not the prefatory page with the Roman numeral ii), you will see a heading called ‘Straws & Utensils’, in which it says “Canadians throw out approximately 57 million straws per day”. That is where Mr. Trudeau got the number. That is, apparently, all the evidence he needed.

    But if you look at that sentence, it has a footnote at the end which is referenced at the bottom of the same page, which says “Assuming the same usage rate in Canada as estimated for the US”. The footnote provides this link:

    That link takes you to a website in the U.S. called the “Straw Free Campaign” created by a 9-year-old Colorado boy named Milo Cress. Milo estimated that Americans use 500 million straws each day.

    If you go to Milo’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), you will see that he estimates that every person in the U.S. uses 1.6 straws per day. Also in the FAQs, he states that the number of disposable straws distributed for use in the U.S. “are based on estimates provided by straw manufacturers Milo talked to in researching this project”. Please note, this is not based on actual data. It is based on estimates by “some straw manufacturers” that Milo talked to in doing this project. He does not tell us what straw manufacturers he spoke to, nor how many.

    Government policy based on facts and evidence implies that the facts and evidence have been collected using sound methodology, and scrutinized through rigorous review and analysis. While I applaud the efforts of Milo Cress, I question whether Milo’s project meets the standard of evidence one would expect prior to the implementation of a national policy.