It is 6 o’clock in the morning.
It is 6 o’clock in the morning. Another rumble blends with the first, then drowns it. All sounds increase: the noise of the engine, power starting the morning, car-honks, birds chirping and then they recede, gradually. I look up into the sky, and as I get into my car, my infantile mind ponders to myself, why aren’t the skies of Jakarta, my home, blue? They’re white. I was perplexed by the dissociation between the whimsical childhood drawings, where we were taught the skies were blue, but instead, I left it blank; I couldn’t lie to my paper, I couldn’t deceive what I saw. Nature through imagination was something compared to as a symbol of bliss, being the center of breathtaking views, amidst the bringing of color to natural life and the beauty of Mother Nature. But, in reality, it was distant.
The sprawling millions of people in my city, destroying the world minute by minute, and to our unbeknownst, the proliferation of climate change and our world’s condition has been deteriorating every minute of every day. As this was an ongoing complication concerning Jakarta’s ecological state, I grew up asking these questions to myself every day, to the extent I put in hours of my day reflecting whether situations like these would improve, or simply deteriorate.
Living in a heavily industrialized city with evolving trends every other day, of course, the upbringing of “eco-items” was brought into notice by populous restaurants and communities. However, the alleged “positive” effects that these items would bring to the world, was to me nonsense.
I conjectured the idea that plastic straws, for example, would bring negative effects to our environment as they were un-biodegradable, but despite the fact that it takes a whopping 500 years for it to decompose, what about the reduction of harmful gases in the air caused by the shipping of paper straws as plastic straws are more likely to be produced locally? According to an article written by Annie Lowrey, she claims that although paper straws may be a “greener” option, they are not going to solve the world’s environmental issues, as well as the already growing ocean’s plastics crisis. In fact, it takes one one what for a tree to grow, be cut down and pulped requiring copious amounts of fossil fuels to ship these items to various restaurants and cafes, mentioning that replacing certain forms of consumption, with slightly better forms of consumption is not going to do any different, and certainly unable to save the planet. Furthermore, due to the popular demand of metal straws these days, with the intrinsic designs, each metal straw holds, from fluorescent colorings to rose gold straws, I was brought to confusion in why these straws have not been slammed publicly due to the concerns regarding our own safety and environmental impact. Comparing to similar situations as metal straws are relatively new to the “trending” topic, I was bewildered as to why for example, Rainbow Loom bracelets were quickly shut down due to rumors in which these bracelets were toxic, with scientific research conducted, ending the trend, and why this wasn’t the same that happened with metal straws.
Indeed, using metal straws is currently a trend, but are metal straws even the right answer to saving our oceans and marine life?
The energy that is required to generate one metal straw is approximately equivalent to creating 90 plastic straws, producing carbon emissions equivalent to about 150 straws, as claimed by Alvaro Limoz. These numbers may not seem much to you, but in order to offset the environmental impact of creating a metal straw, it must be used for over 150 times, which is especially unlikely. Make no mistake, we should be as eco-friendly as possible. But if you are going to purchase “eco-items”, keep in mind the adverse effects that these “environmental-friendly” have on the environment and that these objects may not be as advantageous as we thought, especially when we do not use these items incessantly.
Regardless, this should not mean that we should continue our unsustainable habits that will pollute the air and risk the lives of marine animals, but perpetually understand that reason it is not the materials that make us eco-friendly, but rather our sustainable behavior that counts and not the number of “sustainable” items we own.
All photos taken by Indiana Burton Menajang
in Bali, Indonesia
Author's note: Thank you so much in taking your time to read this article. As an aspiring environmentalist, I hope you learn from this article and do your own part in the world. Once again, thank you. 🙂