How Vancouver's Plastic Straw Ban Affected One Canadian Woman

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How Vancouver's Plastic Straw Ban Affected One Canadian Woman

Ethical Caffeine

Triumph can be seen in small steps, one after the other like soldiers boots dragging against hot sand. Slow yet deliberate moves are being made in the right direction. I open my Facebook page, often annoyed at myself for even still having one. Why do I feel the need to "keep up" with everyone? As I scroll numbly I see Vancouver is the first city to ban plastic straws and foam containers, I find it interesting and continue on scrolling. An ad comes across the screen and I decide in that moment to go get coffee, it was my choice after all. Before heading out I make sure to grab the mail keys and my purse full of things I never seem to use but become anxious if they aren't by my side. Checking the mail has become quite the game, how many things that I have searched online or watched carefully placed ads for, will show up in my mail box in the form of a coupon this time? 

Every second storefront is boarded up; nothing stays for long in the downtown. Only the big chain stores last, they are the quick drawing out-of-towner in an old western movie. There is an old slum-dog hotel that houses the socially condemned and as I walk by, it's inhabitants holler from third story windown reminding me that the human animal lives deep within us all. With four blocks under my feet I am finally greeted by the sad eyes of a coffee house employee. I don't ask how she is because over the last few years I have become increasingly more socially awkward. This is strange because I spend most of my time on social media, connecting and sharing with people. It has allowed me to pause and think about my answers instead of organically it possible to forget how? I force my way through ordering a large iced coffee with a double espresso shot. If I was more aware of it all I might be upset you know, they tell you addiction is an active choice but daily I am bombarded with catchy advertising campaigns that tug on my emotions and trigger my brain into believing I need something. 

The sad eyed woman hands me the drink and I say thank you, grabbing the plastic one-time use container. I pluck a straw from the pile and unwrap it to reveal the red plastic beneath the paper. Playing with the straw between my teeth I breifly remember Vancouver and what a truly remarkable feat it is to be the first city to ban an item that I wouldn't have thought twice about yesterday. Every movement starts with a singular idea and when nurtured in the right environment it grows. Sometimes it continues growing and in it's own way changes the world. From four provinces away I am reminded of the role I personally play each day in either the destruction or creation of the society around me. I head back home past the closed storefronts and fragile faced people and begin to believe that change is possible. As I sit back down at my computer I decide to search something different, "zero waste coffee". Tomorrow morning will bring with it a new level of what I decide to call, ethical caffeine. Besides, it will be fun to see if they dare send me a coupon for it. 


Carlee Lloyd


Nice little piece. Enjoyed it. 

ps I have a stainless steel straw in my packsack that a crunchy granola friend gave me years ago and whenever I buy a cold drink it's always at the ready. Thanks again, you write well. Post more..

Mr. Magoo

Interesting that plastic straws should be next on the list to go.  They don't have even a tenth of the use-value of a plastic bag (unless you order a bubble tea, in which case they're kind of a necessity, and not any LESS virtuous than the probable replacement, a plastic spoon).

I'm reminded of adolescence, though, and visting my cousin, who lived in a "new" development near Sarnia, and our time wandering around a liquid waste treatment area near his home.  The first of a series of treatment ponds always had a huge blanket of shimmering pink and purple floating plastic tubes -- tampon applicators, which we just called 'tampon things' -- thousands and thousands and thousands of them.  Half of a reservoir could be covered in them, depending on which way the wind was blowing.

Those, and plastic knives and plastic forks and plastic spoons and the plastic bottles that "good" water comes in... I do sort of wonder why straws got to be next.  I think we kind of like individually wrapped, one-time-use products because that means no other human had their grubby hands on them.


i just got my stainless straws in the mail.

single use plastic bags are on their way out.

plastic cutlery is not used to extent bags and straws are but need to go too. bamboo and hemp are the way to go for disposable ones.

tampons don't have plastic applicators these days or at least the i am familar with don't. but individual plastic wrap needs replacing with something other.

and then plastic bottles too.

Mr. Magoo

I'm pretty good with bottled water; I never, ever buy it.  And I shake my head when I see people at (say) No Frills with a whole cart full of cases of bottled water when it's on sale.  Why, tho??

Also good with plastic cutlery, though I don't mind saving and using disposable wooden chopsticks when I can.

But I'm pretty Jekyll/Hyde with plastic bags.  When I shop at No Frills or Metro I always decline them, and use my backpack or some mesh bags that I carry in it.  But in Chinatown, they don't even ask if you want a bag (and even when they were supposed to be charging a nickel, they didn't) and so I get a bag.  I try to re-use them (green bin, mostly) or else recycle them.  I suppose some day I could start saying no. :0


I never buy those plastic bottles of what is basically tap water, though I do occasionally buy fizzy mineral water (in glass bottles). Because the ones with a high calcium and magnesium content are good for leg cramps, and because I do have them on hand at little parties, serving wine, as I want people to be able to pleasantly lighten their wine and make spritzers. This is certainly less than once a month.