Plastic straws have long been portable reminders of the destruction we wreak on the environment. From roughly the 1960s until a couple of years ago—depending on where in the world you live—every take-out drink came with one. Some drinks, such as Capri Sun, included a tiny plastic straw as part of the product—one end cleaved to a sharp point with which to puncture the pouch. When finished, the straw was thrown away with the receptacle. These straws—with a half-life of four million years—contributed to the more than eight million tons of plastic that enter Earth’s waterways every year. They were ugly. They often came individually wrapped in paper, like tiny mouth syringes. More importantly for the fate of plastic straws, they were optional: For most people, a straw is not essential, it just makes drinking easier. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 44 Bad Idea: Context Collapse Why misunderstandings multiply online. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Bad Idea: P-Hacking What happens when researchers go fishing. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Bad Idea: Year Wraps An algorithmic celebration of your most depressing digital data. Arts & Culture Issue 41 Bad Idea: Stereo Type The omnipresent embarrassment of “exotic” type. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Bad Idea: Gender Reveals It’s time to burst the (pink or blue) bubble of this trend. Arts & Culture Issue 37 Bad Idea: Lawns A green and pleasant death knell for diversity.