Fredericton — Shortly after the 4th-grade students at Gibson-Neill Memorial Elementary School announced that they would be banning plastic straws from the classroom in an effort to protect sea life, the 3rd-grade students at Garden Creek School announced that they, too, would be taking part in this environmental initiative.
“We’re not going to use straws no more, either,” explained Garden Creek student Alexis Martin, “cus…cus, like, we saw a video? And, like, a turtle ate one? So then it started, like, coughing? Then it was all like this: Acckkk! CAACKK AKKK BLAAAGH…BLAAAA!”
Alexis grabbed her throat and writhed on the floor to demonstrate. After some time, she closed her eyes and stuck out her tongue to indicate that she (i.e. the turtle) was, in fact, dead.
“Like that,” she said, after a moment.
While Gibson-Neill have reported positive changes in the classroom since the straw ban, the same cannot be said for the children of Garden Creek.
“They’re just perpetually sticky now,” said Angela Bates, the Grade 3 homeroom teacher, rolling her eyes. “It’s all the spilled juice. They’ve recently discovered glitter, too, so getting all that off is a real treat.”
She thought this experiment would be a great learning experience for the kids, about how one small lifestyle change can have a major environmental impact. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
“It’s added stress on me. Absolutely,” said Bates. “I have to always be watching them now. Like Jeremy here, this morning, I took my eyes off him for two minutes — he damn near drowned.”
Not only is this the lack of straws potentially dangerous, but the action has also created some serious mental strain on the children.
“They spill their drinks everywhere,” Bates continued. “The floor is soaked, their homework soggy…It’s really starting to get to some of the kids, especially the ones suffering some PTSD since the recent flooding.”
She gestured over to the corner of the classroom where several kids were sitting in juice, rocking back and forth and muttering to themselves.
“It’s just awful,” she said, shaking her head. “Especially for little Toby — he just lost his PlayStation in the flood, and insurance isn’t going to cover it. I mean, his ‘Fornite’ stats are going to be fucked.”
The next day, the status quo was reestablished as Bates returned the straws to their regular spot in the classroom. She says that she has learned from her mistakes, and that she hopes others do too.
“We can’t stand by and do nothing. If we simply let more and more institutions ban plastic straws, then they might get rid of them forever. That simply can’t happen. We must take action before it’s too late!”