As the straw ban debate continues to engulf our country, especially on social media, both sides continue to bicker. Unfortunately, the conservative movement is making itself look foolish as a result.
First, let me set the record straight: lawfully imposed straw bans are asinine and unnecessary. They’re an overreach of power in an attempt to thwart a small percentage—0.03%—of plastic marine debris. Threatening to jail or fine people over that is absolutely worthless. Most importantly, it’s not a championing event for the environment. From Santa Barbara and San Francisco to Seattle, cities have jumped on the straw-banning bandwagon with unnecessary restrictions. Instead of focus on recycling inefficiencies and other root causes of ocean pollution, the straw ban is another example of the environmental left virtue-signaling and claiming environmental success when there is none to be found.
Despite that, even as a conservative activist, the reaction from the right on this has been abysmal. Instead of objectively addressing the flaws of the ban, conservative “pundits” and activists have been posting pictures of themselves with countless straws across social media and promising to use more of them.
For example, Katie Pavlich, a Fox News contributor, captioned a picture with dozens of straws in a cup “Molon Labe.” Thousands of retweets followed, as well as many comments about how the libs had been “owned.” No, using more straws doesn’t trigger the left. It doesn’t “own the libs.” It just makes one look immature, desperate for attention, and anti-environment. Plastic straws are bad for the environment, no matter how small of a chunk they make up.
In another example, Washington Examiner contributor Alana Mastrangelo posted a picture with a straw in her mouth while holding her AR-15, saying the government can’t take either of those things. Seriously? Random far-left city governments banning straws is not remotely the same as Democrats in Congress promoting gun control. Upon close review, the right to bear straws is, shockingly, not listed anywhere in the Bill of Rights.
Lawfully-imposed straw bans are unnecessary and overreaching, but plastic straws are bad for the environment, too. Those two statements aren’t mutually exclusive. As conservatives, we shouldn’t aggressively embrace single-use straws because we disagree with the bans. Instead of countering virtue signaling with our own virtue signaling, we should be focused on opposing the ban using data and research, while embracing and highlighting truly beneficial market-based solutions to the plastic pollution problem. In fact, countless large corporations have begun to limit plastic use within their organizations without government mandates. Instead of vowing to use more straws, we should make the personal choice to limit use of them and other single-use plastics while turning to more sustainable, reusable products.
This straw ban is conservatives’ opportunity to take the conversation a step further and improve it by focusing on the root of the problem and beneficial solutions. It’s our opportunity to show that we care about the environment and tangible results. We need to stop falling in the trap of solely being anti-left on the environment. It makes us look silly, weakens our voice, and degrades the conversation entirely.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.