The View From Here – British prime minister Therese May’s latest environmental pronouncement is definitely the last straw

Tom Henihan

The environment warriors, those self-ordained stewards of the planet have found a new raison d’être, the abolition of the plastic drinking straw.

While in pursuit of the offending drinking straw, the nefarious cotton swab and stir stick did not escaped their attention either.

This time however, it is not the Canadian Prime Minister that is championing the environmental cause, but Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.

May is hoping that her proposed initiative will stir Commonwealth leaders to follow suit, and ban the offending straws, cotton swabs and stir sticks.

Surprisingly, and decidedly out of character, Trudeau demurred on the issue saying, ‘I look forward to gathering with the other G7 leaders to discuss this issue and the various solutions.’

May says her government’s objective in banning plastic straws and other single-use plastic items, is to eliminate unnecessary plastic waste by 2042 as part of a “national plan of action.”

A plan taking a quarter of a century to realize is hardly a plan of action.

However, politicians like to make large pronouncements about trifling matters and minimize the importance of matters of real importance.

While climate change alarmists and global warm-ists leave me cold, I agree that we have to act responsibly to maintain a healthy environment, and we must take large strides to preserve rivers, lakes, oceans, forests and clean air.

But announcing a proposed ban the plastic drinking straw, cotton swabs and stir sticks as a serious environmental program is laughable.

Picking on such items one at a time is to engage in tokenism and to act with the vain righteousness of very small children.

The idea is good but the effect is minimal compared to the outcomes of addressing many larger and more difficult concerns regarding environmental matters.

To put it in perspective, if one Goggles household items manufactured from plastic the list is just about endless : food wrapping, bottles, kitchen containers, carpeting, insulation foam, siding, panelling, water purifiers, microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, and so on.

Considering that there is plastic in just about everything you can lay your hand on, that the drinking straw suddenly became public enemy number one, seems so deliberately venial that it is absurd.

Now that China is an economic power to be reckoned with and is no longer accepting Europe’s and North America’s recyclable waste, the recycling process needs to be more creative and more thorough in its mission.

With China out of the picture, there is no easy fix, the situation is urgent but banning plastic drinking straws is unlikely to tip the balance.

These narrow focus campaigns are little more than a gratifying little distraction that I suspect, does more to limit the search for actual solutions than it does to help the environmental cause, at least in a manner that is in any way significant.

These token, one item at a time initiatives, tend to fade away, to be replaced by another just the same without the environment or peoples’ anxiety about the environment showing any real improvement.

For instance, I can’t recall the last time someone at the checkout asked if I would like paper or plastic . At one time, plastic grocery bags were the crisis du jour, but now that our fate rests on the drinking straw, when it comes to grocery bags the presumption is that I like plastic.


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