The Shallow Victories of the Environmental Movement in Texas

I was on line the other day looking for work, as I do everyday, and came across a job posting on Craigslist.org in the Non-Profit section for an entry level community organizer. The job posting was / is for a position with Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Right at the top of the job posting was this paragraph:

“Texas Campaign for the Environment is the state's leading environmental lobbyist group active on water, air quality, energy, and health. We've been claiming victories in Dallas since 1991!”

When you click on the link to “victories”, the link takes you to their website's victories page. I was scrolling over their “victories” and this one, about being a part of an international effort to get Starbucks to quit using disposable straws, stood out to me;

“TCE was part of the international effort to pressure Starbucks to take accountability for its contribution to the growing plastic pollution crisis.”

When you click on the link in the paragraph about Starbucks, you are taken to another page that provides more details about the campaign.

First, this page is just a re-print from the news organization, CBS Austin. (Meaning, no one at the TCE thought it prudent to actually write their own article.) But I digress...

The article's title read as follows; “Starbucks is replacing plastic straws with ‘sippy cup’ lids”. I thought to myself, “so, Starbucks is going to replace all those straws with sippy cup lids? Gee, I wonder how much more plastic is in those sippy cup lids?”

What's the problem with straws?

Well, according to the article,

"Straws are becoming a target because they contribute to ocean pollution and can be dangerous to marine life. One viral video of an injured sea turtle is credited with waking up the world to the problem.

The video of a sea turtle having a straw removed from its nostril is likely to make you cringe, but the eight-minute video also went viral.

“So this is the reason why we don’t need plastic straws,” said Christine Figgener, a sea turtle expert at Texas A&M University who recorded the procedure."

So... the problem with straws, is they get caught in Turtle's noses, oh my! We must stop everything and declare an emergency world wide to stop the mass production of plastic straws! OMG the horror!

Apologies for my dark snark, but this “victory”, is a fucking joke.

This “article” was from July 2018. From the article...

"Starbucks announced on Monday it will phase out plastic straws by 2020. The change will eliminate the use of one billion straws a year. That not only reduces waste at landfills, it could also make recycling more efficient."

Think for a moment, if the plastic straws will only be replaced with plastic sippy cup lids, how will that reduce waste at landfills or make recycling more “efficient”? It's a linguistic game being played, no?!

It is true that straws are hard to recycle because they are small and thin. The current recycling technology utilized isn't designed to handle straws, they slip through the machinery. In “theory” if sippy cup lids are used to replace the straws, then the sippy cup lids, being bigger, and using more plastic, will be able to be recycled with current recycling technology. (Problem solved, yeah right...)

Which, if you think about it, exposes a gaping hole in our current plastics recycling technology, which can't handle straws, that wind up in our oceans, and even in the nostrils of these beautiful sea turtles.

Where's the campaign to improve our current recycling technology to enable it to handle the recycling of plastic straws, as well as other small bits of plastic that our current recycling technology can't process efficiently? (crickets....)

Am I missing something? I thought we had only a short time to ween ourselves off fossil fuels, which is utilized to make plastics or Climate Armageddon will ensue?! Does not the “science” inform us we have to engage in a massive re-orientation of our world, societies, and economies (personal habits too) to prevent the worst of Climate Armageddon from impacting our planet?

Back to the article.

Robin Schneider, Executive Director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment said...

“These companies have hooked us on convenience and it is a big problem because we are creating so much trash that is totally unnecessary. It’s all this energy that gets put into all kind of things that we use once, for minutes, and then they’re thrown away."

Is she saying we live in a totally disposable society, infected with planned obsolescence so “consumers” will buy more shit they don't need? Or is she saying it's all corporations fault for getting us “hooked on convenience”?

Think for a moment, what did this “campaign” by TCE actually accomplish?

Well, Starbucks was already manufacturing the sippy cup lids for it's existing Nitro drink. One could reasonably argue the campaign successfully helped Starbucks with a “business” decision, to reduce straws manufacturing and distribution, only to increase it's manufacturing and distribution of sippy cup lids, which contain more plastic than the evil straws that can skewer sea turtles noses.

The good thing is that the sippy cup lids won't get stuck in a sea turtle's nose, but, will probably just wind up in their stomachs because those sea turtles, not the most enlighten animals, would probably think the sippy cup lids are food, because of the massive over fishing we humans have been engaged in since, I don't know, forever... has reduced their food supply.

Combined with all the other trash we put into our oceans, and not to mention that thing about Climate Armageddon heating up our oceans, killing off the Coral reefs, which all told together, is killing off the food supply for these precious sea creatures, which are a source of food for we humans, who can afford it, or have easy access to these beautiful creatures to kill and put on the dinner table for our families to eat. Besides, who wants to eat a sea turtle with a fucking Starbucks straw stuck in it's nose. (I wouldn't either.)

Of course capitalism demands we make and profit from with these creatures. From DeepBlu.com:

"The predominant wholesale of species began with green and hawksbill turtles, but when they ran short more species came up for harvest. The initial reason for the uptick wasn’t food, but fashion. Turtles became a commodity, and their parts were used for everything. You could find earrings, pendants, combs, cigarette cases, fans, guitar picks, and birdcages made of turtle."

I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yeah the “Shallow Victories” of the TCE.

We seemed have reached a point in the “environmental movement”, that reducing guilt for buying over priced shit we don't need, because we have been programmed by propaganda for over a century, is normal. (Thanks Edward B)

No one at the Texas Campaign for the Environment has seemed to look at Starbucks supply chain and noticed the indigenous coffee growers / farmers who have had their livelihood destroyed, not to mention the negative environmental impacts of Starbucks way of unsustainable coffee cultivation.

Starbucks is concerned “climate change” is going to impact their bottom line!

I guess one good thing from the TCE campaign is that it exposes a huge hole in our plastics recycling systems; it can't handle straws.

It's sad though, this hole in our recycling efforts doesn't get any attention, at all. So, nothing gets done to fix it. Oh, and speaking of “plastics recycling”, is your stuff actually being recycled? Here's a few eye opening documentaries about the Plastics “recycling”, that is actually not happening as we thought or have been sold by corporate America.

SkyNews - Dirty Business: what really happens to your recycling (from Jan. 2018)

CBC News - Tracking your plastic: Exposing recycling myths (Marketplace) (from Sept. 27, 2019)

60 Minutes Australia - Exposing Australia’s recycling lie | 60 Minutes Australia (from April 15th, 2019)

And of course I came across this article from that wonderfully honest CNN the other day;

"A baby turtle that washed up in Boca Raton, Florida, and died shortly after was found with 104 pieces of plastic in its stomach."

So, the next time you feel the urge to get a job in the Environmental movement, just remember to start your day with a cup of over priced Joe, and know that you're making an impact, world wide!

And you can celebrate your shallow victories with another cup of this addictive, dark brown syrup with pumpkin flavor too!

Cracked - If Coffee Commercials Were Honest - Honest Ads (Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Folgers Parody) (from July 4th 2016)

End of Rant... Drinks

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PriceRip's picture

          requires more that just assuaging guilt. Only targeted systemic change will get us where we need to be, but as most haven't the ability (or desire) to understand the real issues nothing real will change.

RIP

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

n/t

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we have sippy cup lids that are at least compostable (in theory--never seen one degrade, myself). Not sure what exactly they are made of (probably not plastic, though they do feel kind of like plastic lids--similar, not the same).

At least that would seem better than switching from straws to plastic sippy cup lids.

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Alligator Ed's picture

Hope that's not an insult

"Straws are becoming a target because they contribute to ocean pollution and can be dangerous to marine life. One viral video of an injured sea turtle is credited with waking up the world to the problem.

The video of a sea turtle having a straw removed from its nostril is likely to make you cringe, but the eight-minute video also went viral.

I have a better idea for a commercial touting sensible use of common material. I am thinking of cluster bombs. Any self-respecting army should have them. Just think, we could hasten the end of this terrible plastic blight humanity inflicts upon sea turtles. I am all for empathy and sentiment but sea turtles...well, comment reserved. Anyway, the way to end the sea turtle's slow annihilation by plastic tube inhalation is to reduce their suffering, quickly, efficiently, in a soundly capitalistic way.

The solution: cluster bomb the turtle mating beaches during mating season. Problem solved.

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I have been on that boat for over a year and it is soul-crushing (I'm still on it, maybe we can sit together.)

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dystopian's picture

The Shallow Victories of the Environmental Movement in Texas

Whereas "The Victories of the Environmental Movement in Texas" would have an incredibly long list of amazing success stories. At a multitude of levels. Hundreds of thousands of Texans have done wonders fighting against the anti-enviro petro-chem-bigag predominant mentality here.

To characterize one groups doings as 'the shallow enviro movement in Texas' is an insult to many thousands of Texans that have spent their lives fighting for, saving, and protecting millions of acres of habitat among many other things. For you, even though they didn't know you.

I agree the plastic problem is a big problem. Stopping fracking would do more than stopping straws. Converting everything possible to hemp or other organic materials that are suitable would do more. But each and every victory, no matter how small is good.

There are many great environmental groups doing fantastic work here in Texas. From Houston, San Antonio and Travis Audubon Societies to Nature Conservancy and many others.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein