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Farewell to Starbucks' green straws

Farewell to Starbucks' green straws

Say goodbye to the unsung heroes of the coffee revolution

OBITUARY by Ann Wroe: obituaries editor, The Economist

IN THE LONG history of pipe-assisted drinking—­beginning with the gold beer-sipping tubes of the Sumerians—Starbucks’s plastic straws knew they were a cut above the rest. Their tight white wrapping carried not only English words but a stylish French inscription, Pas recommandé pour utiliser dans les boissons chaudes. Released from that confinement, springing up ready, they stood straight, stiff and tall as a stalk of wheat, with no disfiguring articulations; for they never quailed or bent. And their colour was beautiful. It was darker than the leaves of spring, lighter than the Washington forests and the logo of the company, yet fresh, viridian, straight from the palette of a Monet or a Van Gogh. But despite all that they were doomed to disappear by 2020, for not being green enough.

Of course, the straws had long since left their rustic ancestors behind. You could not thatch a cottage roof with them, or weave a hat. At best, they might compose a mat; they would have made poor bedding in barns. Shepherds could not pipe a ditty on them, and poets could not use them as metaphors for the unsubstantiality of life. They had never been blowing crop-stems rippling in the summer wind, entwined with convolvulus and heartsease. Their nearest relatives were not delicate grasses, but single-use plastic stirrers.

Written: Saturday January 18th, 6:05pm 2020