The Last Straw for Malaysia


Straws Ban – are we transitioning to adapt?

“She’s just a wannabe,” I heard the warung owner tell her kitchen assistant when I requested for no straws for my table. Taken aback I was, but not offended. I had experienced worse hostile response online when I posted a picture of my metal straws. My call for no straws was seen as a threat; challenging the straw man’s way of life.

Meanwhile, at another warung we frequent, straws had been automatically excluded from our table. At an artisanal local coffee shop, my explanation for why I say no to straws was returned with a “You’re pretty and environmentally-friendly,” by the barista. I walked away wondering if he understood me at all. On a date the man scoffed at me sipping from my cup, on another date the other man bought straw-less drinks for us. We know who the short straw was.

We are only eight months from our proposed full plastic straw ban in 2020, yet some businesses and people still don’t see the logic, quoting my skeptical date, “Everything here is already plastic.”

I wanted to point out to him that plastic cups and plastic containers could be recycled in the recycling machine but not straws as they get stuck and jam the machine. For this reason, recycling companies choose to dispose the straws, letting them decay in the landfill for one million years.

Convenience! We like the convenience of single-usage items, just throwing them into the bin after one use. Sometimes, mindlessly, people throw them on the ground, unaware of the fact that plastics take millions of years to decay. We like the convenience of sipping through our straws while driving or so that our hands are free to use our phones while sipping.

We want everything to be easier for us yet we are not thinking about the animals and plants suffering from the layers of plastic suffocating. We think it’s easy to get rid of yet we do not think of the harmful chemicals released when we burn plastic, affecting the environment.

We strive to make everything easy for us, but are we making things easier for our future?
I was shown an image circulating online of a receipt where the customer had been charged fifty cents for a straw. The person was complaining about the authority’s plan to make lives difficult. Meanwhile, I sat in a restaurant requesting for “No straws” three times yet my drink came with it! Habit. Are we ready? Shouldn’t we be transitioning by now?
Maybe restaurants aren’t ready to scrub the mouths of their cups?