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Posts Tagged ‘straw

“Behold the child, by Nature’s kindly law pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw”*…

 

The plastic straw is a simple invention with relatively modest value: For a few moments, the device helps make beverages easier to drink. And then, due to reasons of sanitation and ease of use, the straws are thrown away, never to be seen again.

Except, of course, the straw you use in your iced coffee doesn’t biodegrade, and stays around basically forever, often as ocean junk. That, understandably, is leading to chatter around banning plastic straws—notably in Berkeley, California, often the first place to ban anything potentially damaging to the environment.

And while the rest of the world won’t be banning straws anytime soon, maybe they should start thinking about it, because the problem with straws is one of scale. According to National Geographic, Americans use 500 million straws every single day—more than one per person daily…

Whence this waste? “A Brief History of the Modern-Day Straw, the World’s Most Wasteful Commodity.”

[Your correspondent highly recommends Tedium, the original source of this piece.]

* Alexander Pope

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As we suck it up, we might recall that it was on this date in 1869 that  Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès patented margarine, the creation with which he won the contest held by Emperor Napoleon III to find a substitute for the butter used by the French Navy.

A rough contemporary of Jules Verne, Mège-Mouriès was surely one of the reasons for Verne’s scientific and technical optimism:  Mège-Mouriès began his career at age 16 as a chemist’s assistant. By the 1840’s he had improved the syphilis drug, Copahin, after which he patented a variety of creations including tanning, effervescent tablets, paper paste, and sugar extraction.  By the 1850s he had turned to food research and developed a health chocolate (featuring a proprietary calcium phosphate protein) and developed a method that yielded 14% more white bread from a given quantity of wheat.  After 1862, he concentrated his research on fats– the primary product of which was his invention of margarine (though he also scored yet another another patent, for canned meat).

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Written by LW

July 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

All for fun…

 

Forty years ago, self-starter Bruno (as he’s known to all, first-name friendly) opened a fledgling restaurant, or osteria, in the wooded region near Treviso, Italy. The way he tells it, the decision was improvisatory: After buying several pounds of sausage links and a few jugs of wine, he set up a grill in the shade of a tree and awaited his first customers. “I wanted to see if we would sell something or if people would come”…

Come they did– Bruno now presides over a 500-seat outdoor eatery… to which the now 76-year-old inventor has added the Ai Pioppi camping ground and amusement park:  a collection of whimsical amusement park rides, all hand-built by Bruno, that are Ai Pioppi’s main draw.

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Read more about Bruno and Ai Pioppi in “An Amusement Park, Entirely Handmade In The Woods Of Italy.”

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As we brace for the thrill, we might recall that it was on this date in 1888 that Marvin C. Stone was awarded a patent for the first wax-coated drinking straw (paraffin-coated manila paper) and the spiral winding tube-making process used to make it.  Stone, already a success with his paper cigarette holders, decided to try for a replacement for the rye grass shoots that, until his invention, were the drinking straws of choice– while they worked, they imparted an undesirably grassy flavor to beverages.  Stone’s invention so succeeded that within two years his straws were outselling his cigarette holders; in 1906, he patented a winding machine to automate the process and keep up with demand.

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Written by LW

January 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

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