The Trump re-election campaign recently began selling 10-pack plastic drinking straws after the president seized on the paper versions as a sign of liberal overreach. This followed media outrage from the right earlier this year after plastic ones were banned for takeout drinks in Washington, D.C.
The first we heard about plastic straws here came about two years ago when fourth graders at the Montauk School organized a letter-writing campaign to the hamlet’s restaurants, asking if they would cut back or simply stop automatically putting a straw in every drink. From the start, a number of shops and restaurants said yes.
The thinking behind limiting the use of plastic straws is twofold. The first is the straight-up volume of waste they represent. According to estimates, Americans use about 500 million straws every day. Cutting back would reduce the energy needed to produce them and help keep plastic waste out of the environment. The other big reason to take on straws was symbolic, suggesting to American consumers that there are alternatives to other kinds of everyday plastics, and that change was not only possible but easy, too.
For some conservatives, this was too much. Criticism represented a way to get under liberals’ skin, bringing to mind former Vice President Dick Cheney’s boast that driving gas-guzzling vehicles represented all that was good about America. It was inevitable that straws would become a symbol. A helium balloon ban is next — mark our words.