extinction

The Controversy Of Plastic Straws / The Monotony Of Progress

8/1/18

Early in July, Seattle banned single-use plastic straws and utensils.  

San Francisco is poised to do the same.

As are many companies, including the Great Wolf Lodge lodging business.

Good, right? 

I thought so. 

Okay, fine, for all intents it is very good. But not for all purposes. (I separated two parts of a common phrase. I love language.) There are some complications involved that not too many people are willing to face. Not too many people even know the real negative impact this could have. I only knew because it was pointed out to me, on Instagram:  

This post traveled fast like a meme. Multiple users with quite a few followers have posted this, and the slides that follow, including @avengersimscreaming, a fandom/feminism/textpost account. That's where I saw the post.

This post traveled fast like a meme. Multiple users with quite a few followers have posted this, and the slides that follow, including @avengersimscreaming, a fandom/feminism/textpost account. That's where I saw the post.

Instagram has had a new update where you can share multiple photos in one post. These images were all shared at once.

Instagram has had a new update where you can share multiple photos in one post. These images were all shared at once.

So this is essentially a chart showing the common plastic straw and known alternatives. It shows that plastic straws, for their chemical make-up and structure, are the only (known) truly safe straw for disabled people.

So this is essentially a chart showing the common plastic straw and known alternatives. It shows that plastic straws, for their chemical make-up and structure, are the only (known) truly safe straw for disabled people.

Here's someone replying to that image. I had no idea some people could be allergic to straw material. But alright. We can still work with this.

Here's someone replying to that image. I had no idea some people could be allergic to straw material. But alright. We can still work with this.

Yes, there are  definitely  more harmful things to focus on, but I personally believe that with the environmental issues at least, we should get rid of  all  harmful things. Not just the big harmful things. You'd be surprised how the small harmful things add up. And we have to start somewhere. Not too many people will be willing to start big and work smaller. Motivationally speaking, the opposite works better.

Yes, there are definitely more harmful things to focus on, but I personally believe that with the environmental issues at least, we should get rid of all harmful things. Not just the big harmful things. You'd be surprised how the small harmful things add up. And we have to start somewhere. Not too many people will be willing to start big and work smaller. Motivationally speaking, the opposite works better.

Listen, Annie, I've researched you since first viewing the Instagram post. You're cool, and it's cool that you're encouraging dialogue about environmental accountability. (I would love to talk to you, as a disabled person who cares a lot about the natural world.) But no need to all caps this conversation we're all having. The decision to ban straws - no one actively thinks, "Hey, it's time to kill and injure a lot of people!" We're all just trying to do what's best for the world. It's just not working out so great. Maybe the U.S. education system failed us.  ❤️  (Click      here      to view Annie's YouTube channel. She's pretty popular, and for good reason.)

Listen, Annie, I've researched you since first viewing the Instagram post. You're cool, and it's cool that you're encouraging dialogue about environmental accountability. (I would love to talk to you, as a disabled person who cares a lot about the natural world.) But no need to all caps this conversation we're all having. The decision to ban straws - no one actively thinks, "Hey, it's time to kill and injure a lot of people!" We're all just trying to do what's best for the world. It's just not working out so great. Maybe the U.S. education system failed us. ❤️ (Click here to view Annie's YouTube channel. She's pretty popular, and for good reason.)

Are waiters/waitresses/restaurant employees allowed to say that to able-bodied people? Some people do need the extra motivation. And are you implying you don't care about turtles as much as you do people? We've been putting people first for years, look where that got us.

Are waiters/waitresses/restaurant employees allowed to say that to able-bodied people? Some people do need the extra motivation. And are you implying you don't care about turtles as much as you do people? We've been putting people first for years, look where that got us.

That's a fun answer. *sarcastic* And, I want to be clear, when we (original posters and I) say "disabled people," we don't mean people like me. My disabled situation is not everyone else's disabled situation. I have "mobility issues" - not even that - in my legs (hips and feet included in that). I can't walk that well. My arms, brain, etc. are fine. When we say "disabled people need straws," we mean, people like JJ from  Speechless , one of my favorite shows in the world. I don't "get" the experience of people like him, who have it different than I do - I mean, socially, I  sort of  get it:      https://www.zmkf.me/the-blog/2018/7/15/unique-me-on-the-verge-of-noise      This is something I wrote for my personal blog, about my experience as a wheelchair user, if you want to read.

That's a fun answer. *sarcastic* And, I want to be clear, when we (original posters and I) say "disabled people," we don't mean people like me. My disabled situation is not everyone else's disabled situation. I have "mobility issues" - not even that - in my legs (hips and feet included in that). I can't walk that well. My arms, brain, etc. are fine. When we say "disabled people need straws," we mean, people like JJ from Speechless, one of my favorite shows in the world. I don't "get" the experience of people like him, who have it different than I do - I mean, socially, I sort of get it: https://www.zmkf.me/the-blog/2018/7/15/unique-me-on-the-verge-of-noise This is something I wrote for my personal blog, about my experience as a wheelchair user, if you want to read.

"You just make our lives harder without offering feasible alternatives." Um, didn't I  just  see a chart filled with alternatives?? Apparently, none of them work for you!! It's getting kind of annoying. You've got to admit it, it's probably very annoying for you, too. But it's not as though we're not trying.

"You just make our lives harder without offering feasible alternatives." Um, didn't I just see a chart filled with alternatives?? Apparently, none of them work for you!! It's getting kind of annoying. You've got to admit it, it's probably very annoying for you, too. But it's not as though we're not trying.

Did you like my peanut gallery-esque commentary? 

As you can tell, I'm very passionate about the environment and wildlife within, even to the point of dissing people. But getting frustrated - or even furious - with people just trying to live won't help. Because that's just meaningless talk. And I suppose that "Do we need straws today, or would we rather save the turtles?" is the wrong question to ask.

The question we all should be asking, is,

"What can we do?"

Getting mad won't help. Talking about an issue and doing nothing won't help. Not holding yourself accountable won't help. On the other hand, becoming overcome with guilt won't help either. Solutions help. That's why they're called, "solutions." Here are some solutions for the plastic problem.

1. Use less plastic in other ways, if you absolutely need plastic straws. According to Vox's https://www.vox.com/2018/6/25/17488336/starbucks-plastic-straw-ban-ocean-pollution, "There are 150 million metric tons of plastics in the ocean. And if we continue this trend, scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. One of the landmark studies of ocean plastic was published in Science in 2015. The researchers found that we generated 275 million metric tons of plastic waste in one year, of which 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons get into the oceans." We are Operation: OceanFixer, we care about the ocean. We consider this a problem. If you want to use less plastic but need your straws plastic-y, say no to excess packaging, or even bring your own plates/containers if you feel up to the task. Anything you can do to cut back on plastic, please do. We should sacrifice some things, just not "I could get injured or die" things. Do some research, and find out how you can take care of yourself and the world at the same time.

2. Hey, manufacturers! Make better straws! So far, looking back up at the helpful chart up there, the silicone straw is most successful but still harmful. The silicone's problems are "not positionable," and “costly." Part of the problem with this whole thing is, yes, everyone needs to be held accountable, but manufacturers always have more to do with the product design than the consumers. So, builders and inventors, let's take the silicone straw, and build off of that, or,

a) create a better plastic, somehow, so the material doesn't change, but chemical makeup and biodegrading process does, for the better.

b) find a way to destroy our current plastic. Oh wait, we did: https://www.sciencealert.com/plastic-eating-caterpillars-could-help-tackle-our-huge-waste-problemhttps://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-accidentally-engineered-mutant-enzyme-eats-through-plastic-pet-petase-pollution This, ladies and gents and nonbinary friends, is truly great. Get ready for inventions and landfill re-designs based off of this.

3. Go bigger. Move beyond plastic, if you have to. The plastic problem affects the sea and land, so tackle bigger issues, like overfishing or unlawful land animal hunting (I don't agree with hunting at all, personally, but there we have it). If there is an issue you care about, go for it. Just remember what (who?) you're fighting for.

. . .

With this, I leave you. 

I'm always here to help.

- ZMKF, disabled founder of Operation: OceanFixer. 💙       

A Letter On Ocean Health From My Generation To My Parents’

ZMKF aka DORKY SHARK

I can’t decide how to start this…

“How dare you leave this to us?” Harsh. Bitter. Scared. Betrayed.

Or,

“Don’t worry, we’ll take it from here.” Gentle. Calm. Optimistic. No blame.

Both seem like good options.

I guess it depends on the person, really, but in general…in general, my generation hasn’t done enough to help heal the ocean either. I hear the millenials are doing well with that. I’m kidding, of course. Age doesn’t really matter.

But time does.

My friends and I are now working on a site, this site, to save 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. (The ocean.)

This site is a general site that contains links to more specific ocean-saving sites, such as marine animal conservancies, or particular scientific/technological endeavors. The fact that no site has acted as a bridge between the public and the progress before now is disheartening, but it makes us feel special. We are the first. Boy, are we – eventually – going to be popular.

Age doesn’t matter. You could be 23, 34, 45, 64 but still rockin it, 73 but still absolutely rockin it…age doesn’t matter. When I say that this is from my generation to yours, I mean:

You were my age once. You guys, and the few generations before you guys, you and your friends and your parents all started learning about these problems as they begun. Please tell me that learning any type of marine science is simply a new thing that only happens in awesome schools (thanks, Mary!), and that you simply never learned about how bad it was going to get. Because if you did learn, if you knew…tell me what happened.

If you’re reading this and you are a teacher, or an actually sustainable fisherperson, or someone who works to replenish reefs, or anybody who’s trying, then this is not a cry for you to never have any free time. I just want you to see I care too. 

If you learned it then dropped it and stayed inland or just never really looked at the beach right next door, this is for you.        

If you have ever asked yourself, “Why the ocean?”

Don’t.

Don’t even ask.

But I’ll tell you anyways.

There’s gotta be something good hidden in 71 percent of your planet’s surface, right?

“Prochlorococcus and other ocean phytoplankton are responsible for 70 percent of Earth's oxygen production. However, some scientists believe that phytoplankton levels have declined by 40 percent since 1950 due to the warming of the ocean. Ocean temperature impacts the number of phytoplankton in the ocean.” – Save The Plankton, Breathe Freely – National Geographic Society

And ya know what affects ocean temperature? Planet temperature! Global warming! Fun, right?

Rainforests are meaningful, and they need to be saved. Just like all forests. But for their wildlife, not for their oxygen production.

Okay, next fun fact about the ocean!

The oceans hold 97 percent of the Earth’s water. We like water, remember? The Native Americans are right – water is life. The ocean, in general, gives us the life we have. The ocean literally takes the heat from global warming for us.

“This excess energy has largely been sucked up by the oceans, which have a huge capacity to store heat. As the oceans store more heat, however, they expand. Scientists have shown that over the past decade, this thermal expansion has caused about one-third of the rise in sea levels.” – Oceans Are Absorbing Almost All of the Globe’s Excess Heat, The New York Times

That, my friends, is something we should be terrified of and grateful for. If it weren’t the ocean, we’d be feeling global warming how it really is.

Third and final fun fact!

The coral reefs are dying…and you may not care now, but oh boy, you will soon. And I will be laughing maniacally and very bitterly at you while looking you straight in the eyes. Coral reefs hold up biodiversity. Name your favorite seafood. I guarantee you that it is tied, by food chain or by geography, to the reefs. Reefs host breeding, feeding, and fighting. The jobs that coral reefs inspire humans to take bring us billions of dollars in income. And if you support politicians who market themselves on bringing people jobs, support the ocean! Millions of jobs are performed in around 100 different countries, around and at the reefs.   

The ocean is important.

The ocean cannot wait.

The ocean is worth your time and effort.

Even if the time is 30 seconds and the effort is sending this article in an email.

The ocean is not yours to own but if it helps, treat it as such.

There are still things you can do.

But if you ever doubt yourself…or simply get tired of fighting to solve problems that seem to keep coming back…or maybe you’re just worried about what’s coming after your time of fighting is over…

I’m here. My friends and I, we won’t excuse your struggles with this but we will cut you some slack.

And we’ll take charge.

Now is the time.

I am here for you, all of you.

I am here for the ocean, the planet, the flora and fauna.

Lastly, I’m here for myself.

I can’t let this go.

I wonder how you did.

Let me point something out to you. You are a good person. Even though you let it go. But while you sit here having a moral or philosophical argument about whether you should take action now, or whether you will make a difference, or whether you ruined your chance…“Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, and more than 1 million seabirds die each year from ocean pollution and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris.” http://www.seeturtles.org/ocean-plastic/ As you would see if you’d read my shark op-ed piece before this one, about 11, 417 sharks die every hour. Oil spills are thankfully not as common as the pessimist would expect, but whenever they do happen, the part of the ecosystem in which the oil spreads is contaminated. The animals need to be cleansed in a way that they can’t do themselves to survive, not even birds or otters. A beautiful, huge, worthy species that you didn’t even know existed is already extinct and has been for 249 years – Steller’s Sea Cow. 26 to 30 feet long, they were wiped less than 30 years after they were “discovered” by “the Westerners.” (Russians, Northern American immigrants who don’t like to think of themselves as immigrants, etc.) “The smallest and the rarest marine dolphin in the world - the Maui dolphin - is on the verge of disappearing forever. There are no more than 47 of these mammals left in the wild, existing in just a sliver of ocean on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.” https://www.thedodo.com/fewer-than-50-of-these-dolphins-remain-on-the-planet-1168357358.html As you can see, there is much to be done. But we’ll help. And you are a good person. Don’t doubt that.

You might not make a difference. You might. You might find that there’s so much to work on that you don’t know where or how to start. And you might feel like you can’t forgive yourself for ignoring this. But crying about the ocean alone in your room for longer than an hour isn’t going to help the ocean. You may feel depressed about what we tell you. There’s one way to feel better, and that’s to ignore it. You’ve already tried that.

Now try action. Just try. See where it takes you.

I will guide you.

We will guide you.