The Last Straw

Traveling often brings about a plethora of dining experiences. Late-night diner stops, fine-dining with friends and family, emergency hangry stops at gas stations, and “we desperately need wifi” trips to cafes. Chances are, whether you’re traveling full time or just for fun, you’ll be grabbing a meal on the run. While dining out provides a myriad of food and drink options for literally any budget and palate, there are many ways an eco-traveler can eat while keeping the environment in mind. I’m not going to go into dietary preferences here (though I’m happy to discuss them!), but there is one seemingly small choice you can make while dining out that can make a huge impact. I’m talking about straws. 

You might have seen videos going around on facebook, or articles in your favorite blogs about movements happening around the world to ban disposable straws. That’s because according to thelastplasticstraw.org 500 million straws are thrown out every. single. day. And that’s just in the US! That amounts to 175 BILLION plastic straws per year. Here’s the kicker - they take up to 200 years to decompose. That means there are 35,000,000,000,000 (35 trillion, in case you get bored with counting zero’s) straws littering our country, oceans, and waterways at any given time. 

The easy solution? Stop using straws. Tell others to stop using straws. If you’re really feelin it, tell your server *why* you don’t want a straw and suggest they run the idea up the ladder to join so many others in the strawless movement. So many of us use straws merely because they are already in our drinks when they're set in front of us. If there weren't a straw, we probably wouldn't even notice! 

While I’ve been making a concerted effort to go strawless, there are days that, due to chronic joint pain, I can’t grip a cup well. These days can result in some pretty embarrassing spills, to be honest. Because of that, I’ve decided to back a new Kickstarter campaign for Final Straw, a collapsible metal straw with a protective case that fits on your keychain. The fact that it's compact and makes it perfect for travel, and cleaning it is as easy as running an (included) squeegee through it with soapy water. Final Straw is still in the developmental and manufacturing stage, and won't be available until November 2018, but there are countless other alternatives to plastic straws, including biodegradable straws, and long-lasting glass and metal straws. 

As travelers and members of the world, it's our responsibility to examine our impact with each choice we make - even ones that seem small. Sometimes the smallest choices lead to bigger results.