A local Greenwich advocacy group, having managed to solve the non-existent problem of plastic shopping bags, has turned its attention to the latest media craze, the plastic drinking straw, a national frenzy that uses a figure of 500 million discarded straws a day — a statistic arrived at by a 9-year-old boy doing a school paper. I kid you not.
There's been plenty of debunking of this latest hysteria (including the fact that the U.S. generates 1% of the world's plastic waste, while 90% of the plastic that's ending up in our oceans comes from just 10 rivers in the world, all of which serve as sewers for the poorest cities in Africa and Asia), but to virtue signalers, that's irrelevant: it's all about establishing moral authority over the little people. And, of course, shining a golden glow on their own purity and, as one of them puts it, "forward thinking".
“What does your town want to be? Taking a chance of polluting your environment? Or forward thinking and innovative? When the whole world is addressing plastic pollution, why wouldn’t Greenwich be right up there, too?” asked Jeanine Behr Getz of BYO.
Here's what's really behind the attitude and ambition of this crowd:
In Santa Barbara, where that city just enacted its own ban on plastic straws, a councilman gave the game way for himself, and like-minded people, including those here in Greenwich.
Just out of curiosity, I looked up the addresses of two of these social justice warriors and, not surprisingly, they turn out to live in two very comfortable, spacious homes, neither of which would seem likely to be candidates for "low carbon footprint" awards.
One is 4,785 sq.ft., 3 acres in the R-2 zone, oil heat, with an in ground pool; estimated vale, $3.5 million (it's located in an area of town that's seen some severe drops in value in recent years — judging from other details available on the Internet, the lady and her husband can take the hit). The other advocate's home is larger: 9, 800 square feet, hot tub and spa in addition to the mandatory pool, six bedrooms, 7 1/2 baths. Estimated value, $5.5 million.
I don't begrudge these ladies their homes — who doesn't wish to live in a nice house? — but I do resent a couple of very wealthy women instructing the rest of us to do without, as they term it, "convenience" so that they can position themselves as leaders of the new order. If they wish to eliminate convenience, for instance, maybe they should stop heating their pools, fill them in, and bicycle down to the new Byram Pool to join the equally-inconvenienced proletariat on hot summer days.
People who live in stone mansions shouldn't throw plastic straws at the rest of us simply to show that "they care".