Elysha and I went to dinner on Saturday night with friends. I ordered a Diet Coke. When it arrived, it was adorned with an unrequested wedge of lemon but no straw. When I asked for a straw, I was informed by our server that the restaurant had eliminated straws in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.
I was annoyed.
In fairness, I was already annoyed. This was a server who ignored us for 15 minutes, and when we finally asked another server to find our server, he finally returned, explaining that he hadn’t wanted to interrupt our conversation at the table by coming over to take our orders.
In other words, had we wanted to eat. we needed to all sit silently as a signal that we were ready to eat.
That was stupid. But so is this straw policy.
I am not opposed to the reduction of plastic waste. Even though the elimination of straws - a popular movement about a year ago - has been shown to be one of the the least significant actions a person can take to reduce plastic waste, and even though straws can be easily recycled, and even though a paper or even a washable, reusable, metallic straw could easily replace the plastic straw if needed… here are two even larger reasons why this restaurant’s policy is stupid.
STUPID REASON #1
Elysha ordered a mixed drink, and it came with a straw. Not the larger straw typically used in soda but a smaller, thinner straw. Yes, in addition to being a straw, it also serves to stir the drink, but still… IT WAS A STRAW. Don’t tell me that the restaurant has adopted a no-straw policy when there is a straw sitting in the drink beside me. That stirring straw could easily be replaced by something more environmentally friendly.
STUPID REASON #2
Removing the straw from my glass but garnishing it with an unrequested, unnecessary wedge of lemon is really, really stupid.
That lemon was grown in a location hundreds, if not thousands of miles from that restaurant, which means that it was picked from a tree, packed in bubble wrap or foam padding to prevent it from bruising during the journey (according to the United States International Trade Commission), then wrapped in a sealed box in brown packing paper. Then it was shipped north using fossil fuels by train and truck until it finally arrived in the restaurant’s kitchen, where it was probably placed in refrigeration, burning more fossil fuels until it was finally cut into wedges for my soda.
Want to save the planet?
Stop jamming meaningless wedges of lemon and lime onto the edges of your drink glasses, particularly when the patron didn’t ask for or even want any lemon.
That wedge of lemon was probably worth five hundred straws in terms of its environmental impact. A ban on straw is a lovely way of virtue-signally, but it’s also stupid when you’re making egregiously environmentally- unfriendly decisions in the same damn glass of soda.
By the way, do you know what happens when you place a wedge of lemon on the side of a glass but don’t also give the patron a straw? That lemon wedge falls off the glass when the glass is tipped forward into the patron’s mouth. It falls forward, bounces off the patron’s nose, turns, and falls again, eventually landing on the patron’s wife’s foot.
Yeah. That’s happened, too.
To be clear:
I’m not entirely opposed to the elimination of plastic straws. I’m opposed to stupidity. Illogic. Virtue-signaling without any real thought.
And I’ve been arguing against the meaningless, unrequested, lemon wedge for years, because unlike the straw, which serves a function, the lemon wedge is oftentimes a simple garnish, designed to make the glass look lovely while doing little to enhance the flavor of the drink.