“Brothers and sisters the time has come for each and every one of you to decide whether you are going to be the problem or whether you are going to be the solution. You must choose brothers you must choose. It take five seconds. Five seconds of decision. Five seconds to realize your purpose here on the planet. It takes five seconds to realize that it’s time to move. It’s time to get down with it …”
That was J.C. Crawford in 1970. He was introducing pioneering garage rock band MC5 as they slammed into “Ramblin’ Rose” before a stunned audience. MC5 lead singer Rob Tyner died of a heart attack at the tender age of 46 but he put more into five minutes on the planet than some of us put into a lifetime.
Crawford was right. It’s up to each and every one of us to decide if we are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Help, or get out of the way.
Of course this philosophy can apply to almost every important issue of the day. We can choose which issues we care about, which ones are important to us. Being an armchair quarterback never works. Reacting negatively to someone else’s passion is small minded at best and obstructionist at worst.
It takes more courage to kneel during the national anthem than it does to suggest firing the kneeler. Although that’s not my issue I find it repulsive to see folks in the audience with a wiener in one hand and a 20-ounce beer in the other booing while a brother risks his career to take a stand against injustice, not a stand against the flag, our country or the military.
I recently read a column in a regional newspaper mocking the many proposals to limit distribution of plastic straws. It turns out that these straws, along with other single use “convenience” plastic items can end up in the nose of a sea turtle or up the backside of a blue-footed booby.
It only took me five seconds to decide that I’m against that. Even if the reduction in straw distribution only saves one turtle and one booby I’m for it.
I’m not alone. Sharkey’s Restaurant in Fraser has a sign informing patrons that plastic straws are available only by request. The backdrop to the sign shows a surfer catching a wave in a sea of plastic debris. The sign notes that a straw takes 200 years to break down. Sharkey’s is leading the local straw movement!
Another of my favorite restaurants in the valley hits you with a straw in your water glass and follows that with two straws in your margarita. Awareness takes time and traditions are hard to change.
Plastic ends up in us, too. A UC Davis study apparently found that 25% of fish from markets in California and Indonesia contains plastic debris. Anglers? It only takes five seconds to decide. Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?
They say that the hooks and plastic line left behind by anglers across the world is posing a serious threat to fish and fowl. Not leaving this crap behind is the obvious solution but when that doesn’t work it’s time for adult supervision.
On the straw issue the adult in the room happened to be a ten year old. In 2011, ten-year-old Milo Cress went on CNN and took his passion national calling for a ban on automatic plastic straw distribution at restaurants. He was initially surprised to see one of his local restaurants put a straw in every drink served.
“It seemed like a waste to me,” he said.
Obvious. Many unused straws in the restaurant went into the trash and eventually into the sea and you know the rest.
He convinced the owners of Leunig’s Bistro and Cafe in Burlington, Vermont to offer straws upon request, instead of serving them with every drink. They went for it and Leunig’s is considered ground zero for the plastic straw movement.
Now the master of the obvious says he considers himself, “ahead of his time.”
When Cress approached straw manufacturers at the beginning of his quest he discovered that factories were pumping out 500 million straws per day for convenience-obsessed humans. World Watch says that today Americans alone use an estimated 500 million plastic straws per day (that’s more straws than people in the USA).
That’s three billion inches of plastic tubes per day. According to my amateur calculations that’s more than 47,000 miles of straws being produced and thrown away on a daily basis. Some of us agree with Cress that it seems like a waste at best and an environmental nightmare at worst.
Critics argue that straws are just a drop in the bucket of plastic pollution. This is true but that’s a mighty big drop and why not let the kid start with a drop? He’s decided that he’s going to be part of the solution instead of a part of the problem. It probably took him five seconds.
Steve Skinner does not need a straw with his glass of water. Maybe he’s just another booby, but he loves sea turtles. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.