This is a word in the dictionary.

It’s not a word commonly used any more, now that people have discovered the availability of legal clubs that can force people to “do the right thing.”

But persuasion should be more common in a civilized society where coercion is eschewed. Sadly, force seems to be preferred.

The effort to force people not to use plastic straws is a prime example of how some people prefer to wield a club rather than address people’s minds. If it is a good idea not to use materials that are non-degradable and non-reusable for the benefit of the earth’s health, why not PERSUADE people to VOLUNTARILY quit using them? That might, in fact, be a more effective means of making such a broad change in people’s conduct, rather than passing laws that fail to convince and more likely generates resentment.

Pictures of the immensity of plastic waste floating in the oceans, when compared to a plastic straw, gives one an idea of the ridiculousness of the fuzzy minded do-gooders who must gain some sense of satisfaction in believing they are really addressing the problem of polluting the oceans by outlawing the use of plastic straws.

When looking at a picture like the one below, I am forced to wonder why there are not hundreds of people on that beach picking up the debris. Surely there are hundreds who want it cleaned up, and doing so would, in a matter of hours, achieve far more than banning the use of plastic straws. So, where are they?

Remember the ocean debris that made competition in the Olympics in Brazil a serious health hazard? It was repulsive. But there, the pollution remained, untouched, while the country spent millions and millions on hosting the games. Maybe some effort at persuading minds might have convinced people that they should shift their priorities, but it was government that left the garbage floating. Where were people then?

More so than many environmental issues, I do find the dilemma about waste in the oceans a sad concern, in large part because the solution is so obvious and straightforward and probably doable. But other than eliminating the use of straws, there seems to be an appalling lack of interest to do something that could really make a difference. Making it about straws makes it a poliltical issue.

Plastic straws or plastic bags or food containers, most of which end up in landfills, undoubtedly contribute to the problem in a very small way, but they are nothing compared to the real source. Most of the garbage in the oceans was purposely dumped there in years past by cities like New York which throughout its history, up until the mid-90s, dumped all of its garbage in the ocean as a matter of policy!!!The practice is not uncommon still by cities around the world.

Surely, this truth should bring a moment of pause, even to those who find it delicious to impose unearned guilt upon innocent peons slurping soda pop through plastic straws. This is a mammoth problem caused in large part by policies and decisions of governments, as well as by forces of nature.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes or tsunamis, which pull into the oceans hundreds of millions of tons of debris from devastated cities along coast lines, have also contributed greatly to the debris that clogs the oceans around the world. A problem that will continue.

There is much to be done to compensate for decades and decades of abuse and neglect and it is a problem that will never completely go away, but unfortunately since it serves no one’s political purposes, except to the degree they can feel good about bullying innocent people about plastic straws, it will only be addressed by the volunteer efforts of the private sector, who are PERSUADED to do so. PERSUADING them not to use straws or plastic bags is a tiny start, but there is much more that needs to be done and it will have to begin by addressing their minds rather than twisting their arms.