Since the restaurants and bars are closed because of the coronavirus, it will probably be a while before anyone notices that there is no straw stirring the drink in Milwaukee. The ban on straws is now in effect.

The ban is the result of hysteria over the amount of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. While the amount of plastic in the oceans (much of it from Asia) is a concern, plastic straws only account for 0.025% of the problem. A bigger problem is all of that plastic we’re recycling but can’t send to Chinese landfills anymore.

Paper straws, of course, suck. Not only do they disintegrate upon use, they have their own paper-processing impact on the environment. The ban on disposable plastic straws also has an unfortunate impact on the disabled.

That didn’t prevent Milwaukee from joining in the virtue signaling, nor did Milwaukee’s distance from the world’s oceans. Because Milwaukee has solved all of its other problems, the Milwaukee Common Council had plenty of time to solve the ocean plastic problem last November resulting in the ban on plastic straws today.

Bjorn Lomberg points out that fishing is a bigger problem than straws or plastic bags. “We should also recognize that more than 70 per cent of all plastics floating on oceans today – about 190,000 tonnes – come from fisheries, with buoys and lines making up the majority,” Lomberg wrote last year. “That tells us clearly that concerted action is needed to clean up the fishing industry.”

But let’s not give Governor Tony Evers or Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett any ideas about banning fishing right now. A carry out fish fry is one of the few Wisconsin traditions we can still enjoy, even if the drink has a paper straw in it.

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