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Your Voice Matters

Written by Zoe Weil | 2 Comments | Published on May 20, 2013 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2013/05/20/voice-matters/
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pile of colored straws

Image courtesy of jeff_golden/Flickr.

In a previous post, “Hold the Straw, and Other Tips for a Humane and Sustainable Life,” I wrote about my frustration every time I receive a straw in my glass of water at a restaurant. I just can’t understand why restaurants would choose to use a single-use, petroleum-based product that becomes trash in minutes, especially when they are wholly unnecessary and cost money, time, and effort. It just seems like such a lose-lose decision.

At one local restaurant where I eat periodically, they bring water with a straw so fast that I often don’t have time to request my water sans straw before it’s in front of me at the table. I’ve gotten into the habit of asking the server to please hold the straw before I’m even seated.

Recently, the server happened to be an environmental advocate herself, and not only did she hold the straw when I explained why I’d asked, she decided that she would hold the straw from now on with every table. And then she informed the kitchen of her decision.

I loved that. By using my voice, I created an immediate system change. So simple.

So use your voice. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can make a difference.

~ Zoe

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm; Above All, Be Kind; and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach
My TEDxYouth@CEHS “How to Be a Solutionary”


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About Zoe Weil

Zoe is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education She's the author of several books, including Most Good, Least Harm; Above All, Be Kind; and The Power and Promise of Humane Education. See her TEDx talk, "The World Becomes What You Teach": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5HEV96dIuY

Contact Zoe View all articles by Zoe Weil


Donna Becker says:

Having worked in the food service industry for quite a while, I’m sure that the straw IS necessary. Yes, glasses are washed after use. But there are few restaurants of any kind that train, and monitor, their workers well enough to prevent them from giving the customer a dirty glass, one that’s been handled by the rim, or any of several other ways that can contaminate the lip of that glass that gets placed in front of you.
And, despite printed signs posted in every restaurant restroom, there’s no way to know that an employee who’s handled that glass has washed their hands before they leave.
Using a straw is a simple way to help avoid illnesses that can come from putting a contaminated glass in your mouth.
I agree with you that those straws are a bane of the environment, so I take mine home and recycle it.

Zoe Weil says:

Thanks for your comment Donna. The same could be said for utensils and plates, especially forks and spoons. Yet we routinely eat at restaurants taking the risk that someone who hasn’t washed their hands is handling these. I would argue that if we are that concerned about restaurant workers’ germs we should probably eat in or bring our own utensils when we dine out. Some would argue that our current obsession with germs and germicides is breeding bacteria resistant to anti-bacterials. For me, the MOGO choice is no straw, but I can appreciate that your perspective is different.