The Last Straw

After a long day at the office, Marvin Stone was enjoying a refreshing mint julep at his Washington, D.C. home. It wasn’t long before pleasure turned to disgust as Mr. Stone’s drinking tube, made from rye grass, turned to mush. His drink was ruined. The year was 1888. The way people drank their drinks was about to change.

The inventor in Marvin Stone set out to make a better drinking straw. He fashioned a thin tube by wrapping paper around a pencil, sliding out the pencil and applying glue to the ends of the paper. The modern straw was born!


While people have sipped liquid from drinking tubes for thousands of years, it was Marvin Stone’s first paper tube that led to the invention of SO MANY KINDS OF STRAWS – plastic straws, bendy straws, jumbo straws, spoon straws, flexible straws. Some estimates say that Americans now use 500 million plastic straws a day!

Sometimes it seems like the plastic problem is too much, too overwhelming. What can I do when millions and millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans from rivers in places such as India and China?

Well, you can make a difference today, right where you live. If your family is eating out, REFUSE A STRAW. At home, SWITCH FROM A PLASTIC STRAW to a REUSABLE STEEL, GLASS, BAMBOO or PAPER STRAW.



Today, 50% of plastic manufactured globally is single-use plastic, like the straws above. When it might take 500 years for a plastic straw to decompose, a metal straw with a safe, silicone tip is a better bet.    

One less plastic straw in the environment could save a sea turtle’s life.


For one whole year, the author saved every piece of plastic he used. This obsession with plastic led him to ask why we love it so much and can we find a way to use it more wisely.

(this piece originally appeared in The Valley Green Journal)




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