Why Americans Should Stop Using Drinking Straws?

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While having lunch in a restaurant today, I realized that

Indeed, I was having lunch with 8 co-workers, 8 normally constituted adults, 8 people with 2 functioning arms, and we were served 9 glasses of water with 9 plastics straws. Coming from a country where eating has been elevated to an art, such ungracious habit could only raise my curiosity.

Indeed, in France I have not been given a drinking straw in a restaurant since I turned 10 and have been able to drink out of a glass without spilling on myself. Why, in America, are we always given a straw with every drink? Does American exceptionalism include not being able to drink like a normal person? As such a statement would be a little premature, I decided to analyze the reasons behind the America obsession with straws.

There are very few explanations for this phenomenon. One of the reasons advanced for the use of straws is that it avoids tooth decay while drinking soda, as the soda will spend less time in contact with your teeth (note to self: to improve teeth hygene start using a straw instead of reducing soda consumption). However,  I also read the contrary. And if this is true, it does not explain why you are given a straw with a glass of water. A second reason advanced is you are never sure if your glass has been well cleaned, so it is more sanitary to use a straw (the United States is, of course, known to have the worse dishwashers in the world). But the liquid will still be in contact with the glass, making it a potential sanitary hazard anyway, so this seems more than useless. And last but not least, in America you put so much ice in your drinks that it’s too cold to drink without a straw. Putting less ice, thus not needing a straw, does not seem to be an appropriate response to this problem.  In conclusion, I have not been able to find one good explanation for general use of drinking straws in America.

However, there seems to be a growing consensus that we should stop using straws for every drink we have. Indeed, an estimate of 500 millions plastics straws are used every day in America. The environmental cost for this habit is difficult to estimate but keep in mind that most of theses billions of straws all come with a plastic/paper wrap and are not largely recycled. Only giving straws on demand would very easily reduce such waste, an effort being iniated around the country, from Miami to Vermont.

I have been able to reach only two conclusions. To stop using drinking straws would not only be a very easy and efficient way for restaurants all around the country to save money, but it would also be a small step towards a more sustainable world. Above all, it would help so many adults who are given drinking straws without asking to look like a child who is too lazy to bother lifting the glass to his mouth. I agree that French people can be a bit pretentious with their eating maners (who needs 4 different glasses, 3 forks, and 3 knives?) but honestly, how ridiculous would I look if I was drinking wine with a straw?

 

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  1. Amber its actually easier to drink more water with a straw, than without. I don't know why. It just is. Time yourself. In the morning drink a glass of water over the course like you normally would. In the afternoon use a straw. You consume more water through the straw, in a shorter amount of time. If the restaurants were smart they would actually stop giving out straws for this reason. With straws more drink in consumed which means they have to refill more. However, if your goal is to consume more water...use a straw.
  2. Thinking too much I use a straw because I don't like drinking behind someone I don't know. But now that I am thinking about it maybe what I need to do is carry my own because the soda/etc  is still in the glass that did not get washed probably.  Ok now I am driving myself crazy the more I think about eating outside my home! Need I say more
  3. Ryumoau wow...could the author of this post sound anymore like a condescending douche?
  4. Jenooovo One of the worst articles I've ever read. Congrats.
  5. Tilmanator I use straws for soft drinks when I drink them because it's better for your teeth.
  6. Charles Moore Straws are needed for drinks that you put lids on as being a grownup has nothing to do with taking a drink in the car and the driver hits the breaks. never have used the straws with water and with tea I do use the straw to stir in the sweetner as they seem ro forget the spoon a lot.
  7. von Rox Nowadays people like to have oral sex a lot. And that's disgusting to the 3rd party. So that's why drinking straw are absolutely necessary in a public resturant.
  8. Jere I don't drink wine with a straw.......
  9. Lucas Eaves Because you are one of the co-workers cited at the beginning of the post.
  10. Matt Metzner How did you know that I like cold drinks but not when the ice touches my teeth?
14 comments
Amber
Amber

its actually easier to drink more water with a straw, than without. I don't know why. It just is. Time yourself. In the morning drink a glass of water over the course like you normally would. In the afternoon use a straw. You consume more water through the straw, in a shorter amount of time. If the restaurants were smart they would actually stop giving out straws for this reason. With straws more drink in consumed which means they have to refill more. However, if your goal is to consume more water...use a straw. 

Thinking too much
Thinking too much

I use a straw because I don't like drinking behind someone I don't know. But now that I am thinking about it maybe what I need to do is carry my own because the soda/etc  is still in the glass that did not get washed probably.  Ok now I am driving myself crazy the more I think about eating outside my home! Need I say more

Ryumoau
Ryumoau

wow...could the author of this post sound anymore like a condescending douche?

Jenooovo
Jenooovo

One of the worst articles I've ever read. Congrats.

Tilmanator
Tilmanator

I use straws for soft drinks when I drink them because it's better for your teeth.

Charles Moore
Charles Moore

Straws are needed for drinks that you put lids on as being a grownup has nothing to do with taking a drink in the car and the driver hits the breaks. never have used the straws with water and with tea I do use the straw to stir in the sweetner as they seem ro forget the spoon a lot.

von Rox
von Rox

Nowadays people like to have oral sex a lot. And that's disgusting to the 3rd party. So that's why drinking straw are absolutely necessary in a public resturant.

Jere
Jere

I don't drink wine with a straw.......

W. E. Messamore
W. E. Messamore

A very small step. I certainly can't disagree with your analysis. You've made drinking through straws sound so thoroughly silly I probably won't do it for a month after reading this post (or who knows, you may have made a life-long convert out of me!) but this is definitely a strategy to nickel and dime our way to sustainable financial and environmental practices. Let's save some real money and harm to the environment by slashing the DOD's budget, bringing the troops home, and reducing its massive carbon footprint, not to mention its use of depleted uranium weaponry in battle zones around the world. We could suck soda out of straws til kingdom come and not put a dent in the kind of pollution and economic waste wrought by decades of active US military hegemony.

Lucas Eaves
Lucas Eaves

My point was more about the uselessness of straws and their aesthetics aspect. And its true that stopping using is a drop in the overall American footprint but every little step is welcome. Its by saying that you will save money by doing something that you make people change. Everybody follows the money.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

End Straws, Not Wars. My new motto.

Matt Metzner
Matt Metzner

How did you know that I like cold drinks but not when the ice touches my teeth?

Lucas Eaves
Lucas Eaves

Because you are one of the co-workers cited at the beginning of the post.