Anecdotally about a third of the trash I pick up is fishing related - some nets, some buoys, but mostly thousands of small plastic sardine sized fishing net floats.
About a third is one-time use food packaging related - soda and water bottles mainly, but also so many bags for snacks, or tangentially cleaning bottles for hands/dishes. We could do better making less plastic waste with each meal. Straws are a very small part of that and a weird thing to fixate on relative to all the other one time use food waste we generate.
And the last third is various forms of hydrocarbon foams. This last one kills me because I see foams everywhere in the supply chain for consumer goods. TVs are shipped out in white styrofoam. Chips are shipped in with pink styrofoam. If it’s fragile lab equipment it gets shipped in a box three times it’s size full of packing peanut foam. Every product in the room you are in probably generated an equivalent volume of foam during its production. The foam lasts forever. I refuse to use it for anything we package and glad to see it phased out.
I would much prefer biodegradable paper like pulps to foam. As I understand the chemicals used to make hard paper bowls and straws may be their own kind of nasty endocrine disrupters but for all other packaging purposes, yes please. Less foam, more paper. Especially if some tweaks we can make packaging a carbon sink.
It's hard to think that every dollar I spent on tackle was a dollar I spent polluting the shoreline. It was out of sight, so it was out of mind.
I remember this incredible natural aquarium, formed in a wide, deep circular depression of a coral reef. And a single 30m piece of neon line riiight through the middle of it. Doubtless, it was left by a fisherman who swore at losing another $2 sinker, with no concept of what else they'd just done.
Politics can change the rules, having impact that individual purchase decisions can't, because we don't have the information.
I sometimes feel these statements are made without much critical thinking. I’m open to be proved wrong.
In my case, I live outdoors more than half the time, sometimes couchsurfing.
I obtain food primarily from waste.
My electronics are hand-me-downs.
For getting around, I ride with people going my way or walk. I am a careful driver, and sometimes I help drive as contribution. Sometimes I ride trains and buses, which cost minimal money.
I pay a few hundred a year for domains and hosting.
Occasionally, people offer me money. I used to not accept it, but now I just do my best to limit its use to the above.
If I go to a coffee shop, I typically do not buy a coffee. If I sit at a fast food place, I don't buy anything.
I do not feel that I owe anything to anyone just for occupying space.
I do, however, place some properly logoed cups (reused) on my table, and I pick up any trash on the floors, and fix the chairs, and sometimes wipe the tables with abandoned napkins.
It seems kind of silly sometimes, but it's a system that's working well for me now.
I like to visit libraries, though hours are typically limited.
It has taken me about 5 years to transition to this life from full-time job, apartment, and cat.
I had previous camping experience, and a relatively low regard for social norms. I am a man, which obviously helps with safety. But women do it too.
This practice has helped me develop my meditation practice, write more code I can be proud of, and travel without worry about where I'm going to stay when I get there.
Because my past jobs contributed to selling soft drinks, securities, oil, etc., I think that my "environmental karma" is much better. I also have the time to stop and pick up the trash everywhere I go, a practice I find to be both enjoyable and great "natural" exercise.
I am hoping that it will produce a better way for people to talk and connect, as well as provably reliable information store.
Often I actually take tack home I find and dispose of it properly.
I wonder why? Sounds like it's impractical to recycle.
Maybe it's funded by the city, so it would be free for people there, since they've already paid for with their taxes?
Were I king, I'd massively fund R&D to bring new sources of fiber to market. Make them competitive with wood pulp.
Hemp, bamboo, sugar cane, feed corn. Maybe even invasive (noxious) weeds like kudzu. Two birds, one stone.
Extra credit for non till harvesting techniques. Just mow those hemp fields. Then do it all again in three months.
As for the hundreds of men who 'harvested' the trees ... laboring in the gulag wilderness, far from the cities where the paper for fiduciary reports, magazines, academic wisdom and signage is consumed ... most lived marginalized lives of quiet desperation. Even if they managed to make it to retirement with whole bodies.
I infrequently do some light googling to see if anyone is seriously trying to use bamboo or hemp for paper and fabrics. This was the biggest hit last time.
For future, I'll be mindful of the labor and ecological impacts of their processes.
I don't mean bags and plates and stuff. I mean big things like tables, and reusable bowls, and snuff boxes. A lot of them can still be found in antique shops 150 years later.
Straws are completely superfluous. If you take away my straw I can continue drinking the beverage. Chips need a container, sure I'd prefer more bulk bins and recycled containers, but if we banned plastic containers for chips you interfere mightily in someone enjoying their product.
ANYWAYS, the fixation is from the bad actors, the trouble makers, the noisemakers.
Very strange that this must be explained to people who think straws are completely superfluous. If they were superfluous, people wouldn't be using them. This is a great example of Chesterton's Fence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Chesterton%27s_fence
Unfortunately this is a widespread problem that dominates environmental activism in privileged wealthy countries. I wouldn't necessarily call the Straw Banners "Bad Actors" or "Trouble Makers", just foolish people. You have people venturing into areas they know nothing about and suddenly start trying to ban things before even understanding what the issues are. Serious people know that reducing plastic use or the production of plastics is not the issue, but having secure disposal systems is how you keep garbage out of the ocean. Moreover, the problem is almost entirely in the third world where secure disposal systems don't exist. Nothing that you do or don't consume here is going to make a difference in terms of what ends up in the ocean.
Unrecycleable plastic in single use items should be illegal.
They aren't "completely superfluous".
I've never needed a straw while drinking and I facial hair, but I guess personal anecdotes are useless, and cleaning your face occasionally with a napkin(or a sleeve) is... forbidden?
As for the elderly, if your health requires you to use a straw why are you relying on someone else to meet your needs? You should provide your own straws if drinking without a straw is a health concern, right? Someone with a peanut allergy shouldn't rely on the restaurant to have an epi-pin.
Still doesn't mean it is a good idea or that it will solve anything.
More in specific, we can remove straws from our life (you can also claim that all the noise about it raised public awareness), but when Starbucks solution is to use even more plastic in their lids, McDonald's solution are paper straws that cannot be recicled and raise a huge controversy for focusing on something silly I am not sure it was a net ecological win.
We're destroying the environment because we can't be assed to take a break to have a drink.
This is childish. Nations which don't have good sanitation systems are dumping garbage into the oceans, as are ships. Your attempt to self-flagellate, or more accurately flagellate others by abstaining from straws does not help or hurt the environment. It does annoy people and cause resentment and blowback that might stop useful engineering solutions, though. It's a type of modern religious ritual meant to absolve yourself of invented sins because you think you have something to do with plastic in the oceans when the real culprits are thousands of miles away.
If you want to clean up the oceans, try to find a way to provide asian and african nations with secure sanitation systems, and to improve the sanitation handling on ships. Container ships are quite dirty also because of the sulfur being burned. Lots of potential solutions that don't have anything to do with personal abnegation -- it may not feel as good, but for that you should go to church or synagogue rather than trying to invent your own eco-shamanism. The environment is improved by engineering solutions and development in the third world, not by acts of personal purity in the wealthy west.
Nail on the head.
Some people are switching to metal straws, while some restaurants are using dry pasta straws (the pasta doesn't go soft as the drinks are cold).
There are alternatives for those that need them.
People always fixate on things they personally touch and see, over things that are out of sight even if they're thousand or million times bigger factors.
Thus all the frenzy around straws, shopping bags, coffee mugs etc.
And here we are "saving the planet", by reducing the plastic straw consumption:
Mental gymnastics at its best:
> “Whether it’s 500 million or 500 a day, we shouldn’t lose sight of the real issue: Straws should be disposed of properly and should never, ever be littered on land or in waterways,” she said.
We can say it's not us tossing the bottle overboard, but buying things the boats transport supports the system.
Among the most important leverage points for changing a system are its goals and values. Changing from growth to enjoying what we have and from externalizing costs to taking responsibility and stewarding takes time and is not the only course of action, but are necessary.
If we avoid straws and stop there, the action doesn't add up. If we use avoiding straws as practice then to avoid bigger things, then yet bigger things, I see avoiding straws like playing scales to learn piano. Scales alone seem like nothing, but they're how you get to Carnegie Hall.
In my case, starting avoiding packaged food led to no flying which led to leadership roles with my podcast, my second TEDx talk on environmental leadership this weekend (my first: http://joshuaspodek.com/my-tedx-talk-is-online-find-your-del...), and many people now contacting me that they're changing and enjoying the process and results.
Because jettisoning junk improves our lives, we expect to continue.
Only action -- not talking, not reading, not writing, not debating, not analyzing -- only action on one's values brings that joy. If straws are someone's starting point, I support them. Then I support them to continue. I believe everyone should start and accelerate as much as possible in changing their behavior and values.
Your framing of the solution as "Humans need to change from growth to enjoying what we have" is wrong. This is diametrically opposed to human nature--you're literally swimming upstream on this one. It's not going to happen.
If we look at the solution in a way that harnesses the natural tendencies of humans to compete with each other and seek better lives for their children--you could describe it as the following: We need to find newer, more environmentally friendly technologies, faster. This is the Elon Musk approach, and he's proven it works.
Instead of spending billions of dollars on public education programs to eliminate plastic straws, why not direct that money toward inventing bio-degradable straws that are cheaper than plastic? This is absolutely doable.
Instead of telling people to stop flying to visit their family, why not work toward creating more fuel efficient forms of air travel?
You're misguided if you think wrapping yourself in the self-satisfied flag of "do-gooder" and shouting loudly at people to join you is going to have any meaningful impact.
Americans love to fool themselves into these naive, moralistic tirades that lead nowhere. Take the issue of teen pregnancy, for example.
For decades, the American approach was to wag their fingers at teenagers and tell them to not have sex (similar to how we currently wag our fingers at the developing world and their use of oil). Meanwhile, in Northern Europe, they focused on making contraception widely available for teen girls via state run healthcare programs.
Fast forward 50 years and the US has 6X as many teen pregnancies per capita as a country like the Netherlands. Ignoring human nature and focusing on moral appeals doesn't work for sex, and it won't work for consumption either:
If India and China will not join you every sacrifice you did was essentially worthless
Reducing is strategic. Efficiency, such as bio-degradable straws and most newer technologies like you described, is tactical.
I covered this in part in my podcast "episode 183: Reusing and recycling are tactical. Reducing is strategic": https://shows.pippa.io/leadership-and-the-environment/episod....
I'm sorry you think reduction is misguided. Your appeal to human nature opposes hundreds of thousands of years of human history before the past few thousand.
Is it possible the reason humans in the past didn't consume as much, was simply because they lacked the technology to allow them to?
If you gave a human from 10,000 B.C. a private jet, while also telling him that jet is bad for the environment, that human would still be flying all over the globe in an instant.
I don't think humans were somehow more morally conscientious in the past. And I'm not sure we should be aiming to head back to those "glory days" of 20 year lifespans and terrible infant mortality rates.
There is no lack of incentive for this to be invented. The global airline industry is approaching 1 trillion USD in revenue. Climate concerns are not the thing that will provoke innovation here.
Besides, "fly less" is infinitely more tangible. When you become aware that skipping one intercontinental plane (round)trip has the same positive CO2 impact as going from moderate meat consumption to veganism for one year (!) you might weigh your travel options differently. I know I do.
That isn't remotely true. The best pianists in the world who play at Carnegie Hall, true virtuosi, are far beyond attributing their skill to scales. Scales are mainly used by great pianists within the context of your work on specific pieces, as that is where pianists will be judged. Why waste time on all 24 scales for an hour? That's terribly inefficient practice.
For instance, Ballade No 1 by Chopin: you need to practice scales for the coda only, but there are 30-40 other passages that are just as important. You'd be wasting your time to practice scales in other keys and not practicing those challenge moments, as no one cares if you can do scales in E major when those scales are adjacent to the G minor tonality. When I learned that piece, I practiced the two scalar passages maybe 1% of my work on the whole piece.
A more apt analogy would be: if we wean ourselves off of single-use straws, beginning piano students can wean themselves off of pneumonic devices for remembering note names. It's just the very basics of decarbonization/piano playing, and so so much more has to be done in both cases.
So, no, getting to the tip-top level of decarbonization doesn't rely on not using straws, just like Carnegie Hall doesn't rely on scales. This is a classic example of focusing on very miniscule lifestyle changes, when climate change/environmentalism is about huge, broad stroke issues first and foremost.
Ehh, not much point in doing this without also tossing some execs in prison. People won’t see the justice in it otherwise and it will continue to fail catastrophically.
Reducing straws won’t “save the planet” on its own. We will improve the planet by doing multiple things.
Reducing plastic use (less packaging, fewer straws, reusable shopping bags) all play a role in a much bigger effort.
My front yard disagrees. It's adjacent to a somewhat busy road, and straws are part of the debris I have to routinely clean up (along with various wrappers and cigarette butts).
I assume this cleaning includes putting them in your trash and the city taking them to a landfill?
It's obviously not the best path, but cities (by necessity) generally do a good job cleaning up the trash that gets scattered around.
Bigger issue is non-urbanized areas where there isn't the density/wealth to clean up litter.
 The collection of people and institutions, not just the government.
People litter. Cigarette butts, straws, plastic bottles, etc. all very regularly and easily wind up in the ocean with an assist of a slight breeze.
(I would distinguish public trashcans like this from e.g. commercial trashcans for the use of customers of private businesses. First, they should never fill over halfway. Second, the whole thing should be kept clean. Anything else is a failure of management.)
And of course, all the other parts of the road that don't happen to run up to a yard are not really groomed, so all that debris is flushed into the waterways.
How do you think they generate statistics for this kind of thing? They don't count everything, they take samples and infer from that.
It's far more likely that I live in a stray straw accumulation zone than straws are uniformly distributed over the entire city's gardens by some method.
Considering that a lot of land in a city isnt your garden/house (shops, offices, parks), I would suggest that that would tend to balance out the risk of this being a SAZ.
I take your point that this is a data point of one. But if I found one straw in my garden, it is astoundingly unlikely that is the only wild straw in my city. I wouldn't start putting a figure on it from that, but it does suggest the lower bound is much higher than one.
Having never found a straw in my garden my intuition is that (not finding straws in every garden) is more likely than (finding straws in every garden) but obviously I have no valid basis to put a number of any kind on that.
Now while I think the original post is an example of Hasty Generalisation, I think the bigger issue is the generalisation combined with a sample bias. Self reported data points tend to be interesting because otherwise they wouldn't be reported. My thesis is that regularly finding a straw in your garden is interesting because it is unusual.
Arguably it raises awareness and the shard belief in at least the principle of individual responsibility. Against the overwhelming tide of the "Fuck it, I'll be dead before this shit starts to really come down on our heads anyway" which would otherwise be the reigning default.
You (obviously) can't do this on your own and, at a certain level, the environmental movement's focus on bogus, small-time, feel-good issues reveals its cynicism. BUT PLEASE, stop defending it. You're just empowering those looking for a reason to resent the movement.
Like trying to start banning categories of plastic? Straws and shopping bags?
Just Ctrl+F for straws in this thread. Two top comments are taking shots at straws and once I post this reply, those two comments will have pushed the word straw to 97 counts.
Lastly just for fun, just a tally of the most common words on this page:
The article is about merchant and fishing ships.
Actually it was primarily about these ships as primary sources of plastic dumping in the ocean.
Not about the "ships" per se.
It is usually contaminated with food and several different types of plastic are mixed together, including unrecycleable ones. Sorting them for recycling is usually uneconomical.
if everyone stops using plastic straws tomorrow it will not matter and will not make an impact on how much plastic keeps accumulating.
here are a few more ideas for helping the planet: have fewer kids - this weird trick works, learn to love GMOs - this is the future, there is no way we can sustain the population growth we are experience with everyone eating organic, drive your car into the ground or until it's too expensive to repair it.
What is doomed to fail again. You won't save the planet by focusing at the least effective, most demanding action one can do.
On the consumer side. You now no longer see the packaging as it arrives to your house. Do an image search for Pallet Deliveries (I don't want to point fingers) and look at just how much plastic wrap comes on the "reduced waste" packaging, when it's delivered to your supermarket/department store. It's utterly astonishing.
The home machinist trashes his chips, the production shop scraps them.
The problem is that people don't have infinite time or attention. So if you raise awareness and guy buy-in for something like straws, you took away time and awareness from things that could have actually made a difference. To make things worse, people will eventually realize that getting rid of straws didn't have much impact and would be less likely to participate in future causes.
Exactly this. Furthermore, we should be thinking about these issues in terms of ROI; how much time/effort/political capital does this intervention cost? And how much utility does it yield? Banning straws vs. sending them to landfill - not much difference in utility there as I see it.
Unfortunately a lot of movement environmentalism (every movement, really) is just virtue signaling ("Look at me, I fit in to this community, I don't use plastic straws!") rather than actions that are rationally constructed to make a difference.
Now consider your ideas that would actually make a difference. I bet they actually change people's lifestyles which means those proposals are going to be political suicide unlike plastic straws/bags.
For example, look how angry and defensive people get when it comes to their meat consumption. People will openly brag about how little they care about the slaughter of factory-farmed animals because it tastes good, just in response to someone bringing up ethical concerns.
Though I do think plastic straw/bag movements are a gateway to larger ecological movements. You can't jump straight into massive changes unless society is advanced enough to not throw a shitfit if their drink doesn't come with a straw, something that we're still working on.
So, maybe it's plastic straws today, but tomorrow a politician will have a real shot with a platform against waste wrt TFA.
My impression was the exact opposite. A plastic straw ban is invasive and annoying, which makes it a good way to prove commitment to the environmental movement.
I just want to enjoy an occasional unplanned fountain drink without having to use a straw that dissolves in my mouth. I never litter, and would happily cut out some other use of plastic from my life to compensate.
> So, maybe it's plastic straws today, but tomorrow a politician will have a real shot with a platform against waste wrt TFA.
Plastic straw bans are not a prerequisite for fishing reforms. Regulating the commercial fishing industry to fix this problem will be difficult to coordinate internationally, but the end result is not going to have a noticeable effect on most people's lives.
Those sort of reforms are the easiest policy wins and the most impactful, so the focus should be on campaigning for them directly.
So now, when I don’t have a shopping bag in the car (something I’ve done since back when it was specifically “uncool” to do so), and need a bag, I pay a dime for a plastic bag that has at least 5 times as much plastic in it, and it doesn’t photo-degrade in the sunlight like the filthy evil old T-shirt bags (which I also reused) of yesteryear.
Like focusing on mass murders or killing by cop only, in the USA, when talking about gun violence. I get that it’s the most visible thing but it sucks all the political capital out of the discussion to do something major.
One of my first part-time jobs were on construction sites, where I'd spend my day unloading materials which was packed in plastic - which was then just thrown in containers, which in turn were dumped in land-fills.
But with that said, I think it's good that people are aware, and spread awareness.
Add to this, plastic straws are a trifling fraction of plastic pollution, and the made-up furor distracts from actual important issues.
Actually the "single-use plastics directive proposal ", part of a greater plastic strategy , is not only about plastic straws:
a) The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks. These items represent 86% of all single-use plastic items on European beaches, and about half of all plastic marine litter washed up on European beaches.
b) Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups.
c) Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products.
d) Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025.
e) Member States will be obliged to raise consumers' awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear as well as about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.
f) Fishing gear is also addressed:
"up to now, ports have been able to charge fishermen for bringing retrieved abandoned, lost or disposed of fishing gear ashore over and above their normal fee. The Commission’s proposal to revise the Port Reception Facilities Directive (COM(2018)33 final) removes this disincentive. However, ports' costs for expanding facilities and running them could find their way back into the port fee; thus increasing the overall cost for fishers.
This is where the Extended Producer Responsibility comes in. Under this scheme, fishing net producers take on the responsibility (and the cost) for managing fishing gear plastic once it is landed. So, this will reduce port costs for fishers, particularly in small fishing ports, and it will accelerate the development of a dedicated waste stream for fishing gear waste. "
You could argue that this regulation is not enough.
You could argue that the ban should not focus on the most occuring single-use plastics that wash up on European beaches but should focus on the most occurring (micro)plastic-types in the oceans.
I would say this is a perfectly fine complementory step in the right direction.
Also banning straws does impact disabled people who as usual are often ignored.
All the straws and all the 6-pack cartilages that make it into the ocean are nothing compared with lost fishing net detritus--the things that are designed to kill and capture marine life.
I imagine the only substantial course of action would be to ban ocean fishing vessels from the entire coast.
also the elephant in the room is that an individual in the US has little to no control over huge sources of pollution apart from feel good activism (look at this! i'm using a paper straw! I saved 2 turtles this morning y'all! what? can i drink though the paper straw? naaaw dog - it's mushy after 5 seconds but the turtles)
And it's contagious. Several of my peers (who aren't ultra-green types) bought electric cars or installed solar roofs after I talked about my EVs, and even some of their peers bought electric cars after talking to them. Individual action builds consensus on the importance of political action, too, as it is tangible proof that a transition to a low-carbon economy isn't just possible but attractive.
As far as plastic waste:
We can just replace drink straws with biodegradable plastic of the same performance. Techno solutions work. It's how we fixed ozone depletion.
Not trying to suggest you can create structural change here, but just as a product of being an American consumer you have a larger power to reduce GHG emissions than most of the other 6.6 billion people on the planet.
On plastic waste specifically, I think there is far more consumer awareness and consciousness than where I am now, Japan. Everything is in bags in bags in bags.
"Half of the great Pacific garbage patch is made up of fishing nets, by weight, according to a report published last year in Scientific Reports."
It also stands to reason that if that many people really are dependent on fish, it will be devastating to them when overfishing and pollution destroy fish stocks. All the more reason to reduce fishing and build alternatives now.
Statisticians will collect and analyze data at many levels of granularity. Obviously it’s nice to know the types of food billions of people eat more generally than “fat”, “protein”, and “carbs”.
It stands to reason that fishing should be done sustainably, just like anything should be done sustainably, lest it become unsustainable. In other words, this says essentially nothing, right?
Only in the context of what the substitute is, how readily available it is, how comparable in cost, how comparable in nutrition, how much is it preferred or disliked compared to the status quo, and what negative externalities might exist in scaling up the alternative, only in that context can a useful discussion be had.
Pretty worrying that people don't know that the only real sources of essential acids critical to humans are from seafood, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
They aren't optional and the body sucks at synthesising them.
Weirdly smug, alarmist post.
There are people who never eat seafood. Reading your post, you'd have to assume such people would be dead.
You are talking about sources that have only affected people in the last small period of time. There are a couple of million years of development that got you to the point of fortified cereals and pills.
> There are people who never eat seafood.
> Well yes, but actually no. Not all proteins are equal, they have different quantities of different kinds of amino acids. Humans need 9 distinct amino acids for a healthy diet, and animal proteins are by far the easiest source of "complete proteins" from a single source. It's absolutely possible to get plant-based complete proteins (e.g. soy or quinoa), but often that involves deliberately mixing different protein sources to get a complete balance.
Also, no, the world is not going to stop fishing because a few people on HN think it's a good idea. Trying to enforce your own sense of morality on others is pointless.
Banning non-biodegradable nets and lines would be far more sensible and even that would have compliance issues.
To me (perhaps not you) it smells like death.
As an aside - I remember reading some thing a few years ago about 'supertasters' and there was a checklist that i went through that implied I had a particularly acute sense of smell. Probably bullshit, but perhaps it's something to do with that.
I really wish I could enjoy fish - as a meat it looks wonderful, but I simply cannot stand the stuff.
That has the peripheral benefit of allowing me to be smugly pious when it comes to the subject of over-fishing and depleted stocks, etc..
So I teased him with "For heaven's sake, John! You're a vegetarian! Why are you eating Prawns??? Prawns are insects!!!" fully expecting to have an enjoyable argument about whether or not prawns qualified as insects for the purpose of vegetarianism, a hill I was willing to die on, for which I had a bunch of subjective emotional aesthetic talking points locked and loaded.
But he headed me off at the pass by accepting my premise and shutting me up: "Of course I eat insects. Insects are the enemy! We MUST eat them!!!"
I imagine in both cases the ships would just have a boat meet them out at sea with additional nets so they either don't need to pay the fine for nets lost or don't need to buy expensive certified nets.
I don't think they would go through that much trouble just for not bringing a net back home. In any case, you could also put an ID or name on a net, just like a license-plate.
Also, having nets without certification would be a crime, so that boat waiting at sea would be in problems if caught.
Saving the planet - an enormous and incredibly complex task, will undoubtedly require quite a bit of individual action and behaviour change. To do without a straw or bringing your own cup can be a commitment to such behaviour change, to accept and act on whatever reasonable measure we find out to be important. Finding out that, say, producing a bamboo straw or cleaning the reusable mug takes more energy than producing plastic straws and cups should not be taken as a reason to mock well-intentioned actions (not saying that you did), but rather to iterate and figure out real solutions.
They certainly don’t include using government force to impose that on everybody else, while having no fucking clue what one is talking about.
That depends on what happens with your trash. If it stays inland in a landfill, then no. If it's sold for sorting and transported long distance on a barge, then that's possible.
"The Fox Glacier landfill operated from the 1960s until the early 2000s. It was eroded by the Fox River during the huge storm event on March 26 and 27."
And yet, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that there's less plastic in a straw than in a disposable coffee cup, let alone the doubled cups that they serve the coffee in in lieu of using those paper sleeves. Certainly after they've stuck one of those plastic sippy lids on top of the whole affair. If they're worried about their waste stream, that's the place to start.
Also, you can reuse the plastic bags.
I found one study that suggested, though, that the lowest environmental load came from the regular disposable bags as long as you reuse them until they wear out. The main reason I don't do that is that I've discovered that supermarket employees seem to really hate that, in a way they don't with the bags that are made for reuse.
I'm also inclined to guess that it's still bikeshedding. The shopping bag is really visible, but it's maybe a small amount of waste compared to all the unnecessary packaging for the products it's being used to carry home.
Starbucks also pays customers to take their drinks in reusable cups.
I am not surprised to learn that people who have thought about the issue for more than 2 minutes have come up with a better solution than a low effort HN comment.
I think the EU when banning this had data, they sampled garbage they found on various beaches and decided that straws are both common and easy to replace.
So while the ban straws was a token gesture it does seem to have generated some creativity and movement on other fronts which at least gets peoples attention on the problem of single-use plastics.
Even if the only the thing the straw ban did was inspired a whataboutism movement to pretend to care about fishing nets, it would still be a net win in terms of motivating improvement.
> End of this year, Thailand will be free from three types of plastic – microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics – and from four other types of single-use plastics by 2022, according to a road map that got the Cabinet’s initial nod on Tuesday.
> The four single-use plastics to be rid of by 2022 are: lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick; styrofoam food containers for takeaways; plastic cups and plastic straws – with the exception of those who still need to use them such as the elderly, patients and children.
I hope Thailand sticks with these plans. Plastics use is huge over here and in my opinion these plans could make a big difference.
Isn't this all that politics is?
Plastic waste reduction needs to think bigger. This isn't about straws. It's about a wasteful throw away culture that has to adapt to a less wasteful way of life. And that will involve making sacrifices beyond paper straws.
Does an AMD threadripper need to come in a huge gaudy plastic display case? Does amazon need to send a thumb sized trinket in a 10x12 plastic bubble envelope? Why does my gadget come in a fancy box that needs to be placed in another box filled with foam packing peanuts or plastic bags full of air? All that wasteful packaging does is clog landfills and waterways. But people foolishly praise it as in the case of the horribly wasteful AMD packing. It's environmentally tone deaf.
Another side note, look at this sign that I've seen aboard vessels: https://vesselplacards.com/product/garbage-overboard-marpol-...
It basically states "Don't throw garbage overboard, You could be breaking the law" as if it being illegal should be the only reason not to dump your waste in the environment.
Resemble in looks or taste?
Source: a member of my immediate family worked at a company that manufactured them and brought home many samples. We'd freak people out by eating them. The joke was always "What do you pack packing material in for shipping?"
As an aside, don't drink from beer/pop cans without washing the tops.
Edit, got it:
Don't do that, you'll wipe away all the flavour!
Esprit de l'escalier
Where are they contaminated?
This leads to reasoning like "it's fishing nets the actual issue, I might as well continue throwing a full trash can full of packages every 3 days".
It's not true, fishing nets is actually only 45%, the other 55% we can still work on that's a lot, it's the majority. Another way is to just stop eating fish.
In my local supermarket, if I want to buy 4 peaches they come in a plastic container wrapped in a transparent plastic sheet, not kidding.
Why is this, why wait to solve the fishing net problems before taking other measures?
I see this line of thought a lot here in Hacker News, especially in topics related to climate change for example.
These things can and should be tackled in parallel at the same time. We can all take responsibility personally, how about trying to use less single-use plastics, buy in local grocery shops more with reusable bags, and stop eating fish?
We can all do that, we don't need to wait for some international fishing committee to decide for years on what is the best way to change the rules on how nets can be made or handled.
That being said if anyone is up for the challenge personally go for it! That's completely different than wondering why society as a whole focuses on impactful problems first.
Society is not an abstract entity, its all of us, we are the society. The responsibility is of each and every individual and not governments.
Governments are elected by individuals to represent their viewpoints. Governments will not act on these issues unless there are enough individual voters supporting these views, politicians, as usual, will only do and say what is popular and gets them elected.
Governments are a reflection of the thoughts and beliefs of the people that vote for them. The real responsibility is of the individual.
If people are so worried about the impact of fishing nets, then stop eating fish and directly supporting that industry. Its completely a matter of personal choice, fish is optional for a healthy diet and nobody is flushing it down people's throats.
Sometimes it makes sense to fix small obvious issues quickly ("oops, forgot to check for null here") before diving into potentially worse but more complicated problems ("user who signed up on legacy plan reports that some playlists are incomplete in new app").
Sometimes there's such a high impact issue that you have to try to address it immediately, even if you suspect that it will involve a hellish trek through the least-maintained code in the whole company before you can even isolate a reproducible test case.
And if you have multiple developers working on bugs, one person may be doing the first while a different person is handling the second.
Greta visited the US and gave some compelling speeches. Will she visit China and India and do the same?
No doubt if the climate movement in China and India invite her, she might well go. Well, perhaps not China as they lack freedom of association and speech. There have been protests in HK though. I doubt there is even as much in China as in Russia.
Russia has school strikes for climate consisting of one person demonstrating, changing places with another every hour or two. That's because two or more demonstrating would fall foul of restrictions, as would anyone under 18.
 (Photos, text in Cyrillic): https://twitter.com/Fridaysforfut20/status/11776740588482478...
Communicating with China and having the ability to effectively influence their policy is a much more difficult task.
AirVisual  shows the impact of these areas pretty dramatically. At times, the air pollution in Africa is so bad that its impact can be felt directly in Brasil.
A few years ago it was "this isn't happening" now it's "these other people do it far worse than we do."
I also don't buy that if everyone was producing at smaller scales at home, this problem would be at all better. This is a consumption problem, not a "globalization" problem.
I agree with you that this is a consumption problem, but globalization is what has driven consumption for the past 30 years.
That's a hell of a caveat.
The “right” in the US is now staunchly in favor of trade wars instead of free trade. Not what you’d expect given their history.
Why should a grouping of people called "country" be more important than per capita? You can always find a group that is larger than you, but it is still not a good excuse for not changing what you do. I would say it is selfish to expect mostly emerging markets to change, when it is the developed world that is mostly to blame
Yes, to address the United Nations.
It was actually bad enough, that Beijing was apparently fixing it for the last 20 years: https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/27645/...
If you have good faith interest in reducit pollution, please contribute efforts to reducing pollution, not backseat driving another volunteer. Greta Thunberg doesn't owe you anything.