Compostable Forks Don't Work and Paper Straws Are Nasty. Thanks, Seattle!

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I was eating at Panda Express earlier today. (Don't judge me.) I noticed that, after a few bites, my fork was completely bent out of shape. (See image.) So, I took a look at the handle. "Compostable," it said.

It's not like I was eating a bowl of rocks; I had orange chicken and fried rice. The compostable fork couldn't handle that? I had to go get a second fork, which probably negates any Earth-saving benefits from using compostable forks in the first place.

It then dawned on me that this wasn't some savvy, money-saving decision by Panda Express. No, this atrocity was forced on them by the City of Seattle. On July 1, 2018, a law went into effect that banned both plastic straws and utensils. The result: Utensils that don't work.

That really shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. In 2011, The Washington Post wrote about the compostable utensils used at the Capitol Building: "They cost more, did relatively little for the environment and warped when exposed to hot soup."

The ban on plastic straws comes with its own set of problems, too. Not only does it pose a difficulty for people with disabilities, a common replacement is a paper straw. In a word, paper straws are disgusting. (I've tried them.) An article in Quartz describes the experience perfectly:

Never sipped a beverage from a paper straw? Reach for the closest piece of paper at hand—the back cover of that two-month-old Economist you swear you’re going to read, an aging flier for guitar lessons pinned up at a coffee shop—and roll it into a thin tube. Sip a variety of beverages through it so that you can marvel at how all drinks—fizzy sodas, fresh-squeezed juices, refreshing cocktails of all stripes—take the flavor of wet paper under the tyrannical influence of this drinking straw imposter. Enjoy the mouthfeel of cellulose dissolving on your tongue.

So, why put people through all this misery? Well, it's for the planet. Thus, this charade is all part of the "Environmentalist Two-Step": Make up a problem that doesn't exist and "solve" it with something that doesn't work.

The Environmentalist Two-Step

Let's take a closer look at the Environmentalist Two-Step.

Step #1: Make up a problem that doesn't exist. The reason that one-use, disposable plastic straws and utensils were banned was because of the accumulation of plastic waste in the ocean. That is a real problem, but plastic straws and utensils aren't the problem. In fact, the United States isn't the problem.

The problem is poor sanitation in developing Asian and African countries, whose citizens often just dump garbage right into a local river. As we wrote previously, about 88% to 95% of the plastic pollution in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers, eight of which are in Africa and two in Asia. Furthermore, a paper published in Science from 2015 breaks down the sources of plastic pollution:

When it comes to global plastic polluters, the United States comes in 20th place. (Those green Europeans would come in 18th place, if the European Union was considered as a whole.)

The point is that plastic pollution is not due to rich people drinking from straws. That was entirely fabricated by environmental activists.

Step #2: Solve the problem with something that doesn't work. Every fabricated problem needs a fabricated solution, usually enforced by the government on an unwilling public. In this case, the non-problem of plastic straws and utensils was "solved" with compostable ones that don't work.

We've been here before. The reason your toilet doesn't work is because the government decided that water conservation was a problem. The "solution" was to give everybody toilets that don't flush properly. As a result, people have to flush several times to prevent the toilet from clogging, which entirely defeats the purpose of water-conserving toilets.

If Environmentalists' Solutions Worked, People Would Buy Them Voluntarily

I have no problem with efforts to make manufacturing more environmentally friendly and sustainable. That's a laudable and necessary goal. But the solution actually has to work. If environmental activists focused on making better products, then people would buy them voluntarily in the free market.