Paper straws offer weak solution to environmental problems


Charlie Damberg

The Chipotle straw, in its fateful saggy nature, is beyond infuriating and should be illegal.

Chipotle is my favorite fast food restaurant – they have truly mastered the art of quality (yet quick) food. If you can find a location close to your house like me, you will find that the employees will quickly learn your order and have it ready shortly after they see your car pull into the parking lot. Unfortunately, there is one thing at Chipotle I simply cannot get over: the paper straws.

The argument for the paper straw is about as strong as the straw itself after five minutes of use. It falls apart so fast that you literally cannot get to the bottom of the drink before the lifeless, floppy, papery mess unravels and you are left sucking a damp piece of recycled cardboard. There have to be better ways of practicing environmental responsibility. What about the trees? By the way, paper straws are rarely recyclable! How ironic is that?

The plastic straw is a perfected craft; it truly cannot be improved.

— Charlie Damberg

At the very least, we should have the option to choose between a plastic or paper straw. In the industry, that’s called good customer service. Otherwise, Chipotle should redesign their already plastic lids to include a mouthhole – like a Starbucks lid. That way, the problem of sustainability is solved and customers don’t have to deal with a mushy mouthful of paper.

The blind rage towards plastic will not change the fact that paper straws still take months to decompose. Making everything paper is not a panacea, and to some degree is just pushing the problem into the domain of the logging industry. I understand the effort to cut back on plastics and reduce nearly non-compostable waste, but let’s not be so soon to give up all our luxuries. The plastic straw is a perfected craft; it truly cannot be improved. I will continue to use plastic straws when I can. Hopefully, my grandchildren will understand.