Efforts to save the environment in Seattle through the banning of plastic straws and utensils was received with great fervor by the city’s politicians. “Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world’s oceans, and I’m proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban,” stated Public Utilities General Manager Mami Hara.
While their efforts are noble, businesses within the city have noticed some complaints from their clientele, specifically over the use of paper straws in their restaurants. Tom Douglas, owner of Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen chain, who has been a name that goes hand in hand with the taste of the Northwest for 30 years, has noted that his customers haven’t responded as strongly as anticipated to the paper straws.
“Some have complained that their straws become pulp before they have finished with their beverage and at times we have to give out multiple straws if they get lots of refills,” stated Douglas continuing “we’re willing to take a small hit for the environment, but we also can’t help the oceans if we’re out of business.”
Issues with paper straws hasn’t been limited to restaurants, as it’s also affecting the surrounding community. Scott Jenkins, a twitchy man who claimed he was a Cubmaster, stated that this new law has made his rain gutter regatta less successful. “Moisture gets stuck to the inside when you sniff, or blow through them and anything going through it gets stuck if it doesn’t fall apart first,” he stated.
A solution had to come if the rainy city was to continue being at the forefront of the green movement, and one economist believes that he may have the answer to the Seattle restaurant industries woes. Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Washington Philip Brock believes he has found the perfect way to make paper straws cheaper and potentially stronger so that restaurant owners can give away as many straws as possible without breaking the bank: buy Venezuelan Bolivars and use them to craft straws.
“Venezuela’s economic troubles have been of particular interest of mine recently,” stated Professor Brock. “The recent troubles of the Seattle food industry with their environmental interests seemed like the perfect way to support Venezuela and lower the stress of how to supply multiple straws to customers.”
The economists plan consists of Seattle restaurants purchasing Bolivars, which as of August 17th 260,000 Bolivars could be bought for $1.05, to use for the creation of paper straws. The typical straw is 10.5 inches long and a piece of paper money is typically a little over 6 inches. So, for more than a dollar, a restaurant using a double layer of Bolivars could have nearly 65,000 straws.
To contrast, a pack of 100 Outside The Box Papers paper straws costs $8.99. “This could potentially be the initiative that saves Venezuela’s economy and helps the Seattle restaurant industry champion saving the oceans from deadly plastics,” exclaimed Brock.
While many on the conservative side of the political spectrum criticized the straw ban for being an ineffective way of combatting the plastic in the oceans problem, it would seem that this prohibition may have brought about the salvation of a failing South American economy.