“Why would you wear those pants? They showcase your muffin top.” That’s called fat-shaming. “Why do your legs spread as easily as cream cheese on a bagel?” That’s called slut-shaming, In my day, it was just called being a nasty bitch. Now, it happens all over social media. I thank some higher power that this little shaming trend came into existence well past 1990, the year of my college graduation. I’ve managed to avoid being fat- or slut-shamed as far as I know, but, last summer, I was straw-shamed. I have to say it did leave me with a little sting, which is why I’m writing about it today.
I now keep a metal straw in both my glove compartment and pocketbook, but here’s how it went down last July when I poured my two guests drinks and offered them plastic cocktail straws/stirrers. Right away, my one friend said, “I don’t use straws.” I was smart enough to know it was an environment-friendly stance and not a problem with her lips. I remember feeling embarrassed and extremely non-green. I wanted to shout out, “Wait, I hate Trump, and I’m a staunch recycler! I only use paper plates on a rare night of too much company!” Instead, I defended myself by saying, “Well, I have tons of these little straws. I may as well use them, because they can be thrown out now all together or little by little over time.” She just kind of nodded but definitely didn’t reach for a straw. I can’t remember if my other friend used one or not, but I’m guessing after that awkward exchange, she put her mouth directly on her glass.
You might be thinking that my friend didn’t really shame me, and I was just being sensitive. It was my reaction to feel embarrassed. It was her choice of words that made me cringe, though. Had she simply said, “No thanks,” I would never have given it a second thought. But, I heard “I don’t use straws,” as, “Why do you use straws?” Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, because, guess what? I did ask myself why I used them. A quick Google search told me that plastic straws take about 500 years to decompose. That means every one you’ve ever used is sitting in a landfill somewhere. Loads of littered straws end up in the ocean, where fish and animals can’t digest them. I’m not a tree-hugger or an animal-lover by any means, but I do have a conscience and a heart.
Like I mentioned, I recently began keeping metal straws with me, but it’s not so common in the NJ suburbs yet. I can just hear the jabs from my Chanel-bag-carrying friends. “Oh, look at Miss Dreadlocks and her silver straws!” My “shamer” friend—who is a very nice person by the way—lives in Brooklyn, where people are more environmentally conscious. I have cousins in Berkeley, CA, who carry reusable straws and nylon grocery bags in their pocketbooks. They use cloth napkins, too. My part of NJ apparently hasn’t gotten this memo yet. Trader Joe’s is the one grocery store near me who gives out paper bags only. My big three markets—Shop Rite, Kings and even Whole Foods—still use plastic bags. That would be a practice worse than human sacrifice in Berkeley. Our close neighbor, New York, just passed a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags that will start next March. These greener, cultural norms will slowly make their way to NJ no doubt, but the message is being sent via the Pony Express.
While I do have my own reusable grocery bags, I’m not not ready to get completely fucking California yet—I cannot live without paper towels or Ziploc bags. Those are like plasma and oxygen to me. I hear that in some places, cloth diapers are making a strong comeback, since disposable diapers really do a number on the environment. I offer a sincere thank you here to my three children for being fully potty-trained. So, back to my plethora of cocktail straws: Do I toss them or use them gradually, since they will all be going to a landfill eventually? I’m ‘gonna go with tossing them now. If my cute, metal straws inspire someone else, then that’s a good thing. Plus, I don’t want to be stung ever again by anyone in a “There is no Planet B” t-shirt.
I dedicate this blog to Elpheba, the coolest green person out there. I also dedicate it to my friend, who did me a favor and spurred me into action without even knowing she did. Thank you to all the others, who truly care about reducing our carbon footprint, too. Hear this, though: I will never stop shaving my pits or reuse tampons.
p.s. Guilt alert. I just ordered reusable storage bags to replace my Ziploc habit. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LX4FXMM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
*All names have been changed.
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