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Delta’s Straw Ban: Virtue Signaling Takes Flight

Delta Air Lines burns 3.9 billion (with a “B”) gallons of fuel each year.

However, the Atlanta, Georgia-based airline is hoping you’ll ignore what happens in the skies and reward their uber-consciousness for the seas.

Earlier this week, Delta, in a bout of self-congratulatory back-patting, announced it would be removing straws and other disposable plastic items from flights and Delta Sky Clubs. The PR department glowingly claimed this initiative would eliminate 300,000 pounds of waste annually.

If you’ve been paying attention, you understand the environmental left has been waging a war on convenience because of a 9-year-old’s science report and a sea turtle. While the dumping of trash in the ocean is not acceptable, we view the hysteria behind the demonization of straws with a healthy amount of skepticism. After all, did anyone actually believe Delta was dumping garbage bags full of straws and other plastic disposables from the stratosphere during trans-Pacific flights?

No, we reasonably expected Delta disposes of waste in a responsible way when planes land.

However, Delta, and the rest of the airline industry does leave something behind on every flight. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, United States civil aviation aircraft consumed about 20.2 billion gallons in 2014. That would mean Delta was responsible for 19% of the U.S. aviation fuel consumption and the resulting emissions.

If estimates that the aviation industry produced .02 gigatons (over 440 billion pounds) of greenhouse gases in 2014 are correct, then Delta would be responsible for 83 billion pounds of greenhouse gases in a single year. Remember, airlines are also responsible for spewing soot, particulate matter, and toxic pollutants that kill about 10,000 per year.

Yet, Delta is very concerned with making sure we know how much they care about 300,000 pounds of straws, which is why we wonder about the motives.

The left’s anti-straw hysteria ignores the fact that the Pacific Ocean’s garbage patch comes trash-ridden rivers in Asia, not American landfills, meaning straw bans by Starbucks, Delta competitor American Airlines, and others are largely empty gestures. In fact, Delta is relatively late to the game.

Not surprisingly, proponents of the anti-straw movement admit that the movement is mostly just an exercise in virtue signaling:

“Banning plastic straws won’t save the oceans. But we should do it anyway,” said Vox in a Monday article.

Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale, which launched last year the Strawless in Seattle campaign, said “the straw becomes this gateway conversation that makes you realize how pervasive and ubiquitous the problem is.”

“Our straw campaign is not really about straws,” Mr. Ives told Vox. “It’s about pointing out how prevalent single-use plastics are in our lives. Putting up a mirror to hold us accountable. We’ve all been asleep at the wheel.”

So Delta has nose-dived into a cause of which its very founders admit is meaningless.

Now, Delta may have valid economic reasons for taking straws off the balance sheet. Reducing the cost of doing business is laudable for any company, as is reducing environmental impact. One might even speculate convincing the public of plastic’s evils could play a role in reducing demand for an oil based product. However, Delta’s recent history shows posturing takes priority over substance for this company.

Remember, only a few months ago, Delta discontinued a discount program with the National Rifle Association, again following the lead of other corporations carrying water for the left’s agenda. Interestingly, only 13 individuals had taken advantage of the program, which was not a sponsorship of the NRA, indicating the decision to sever ties may have been more about scoring political points.

Also, in 2016, Delta successfully helped pressure Georgia’s governor to veto a bill that would have protected the 1st Amendment rights of pastors and churches as a member of the Georgia Prospers. While Georgia Prospers branded itself as a business coalition organized to fight discrimination, the organization is a front group for liberal billionaire Tim Gill who has expressed the desire to “punish the wicked” in reference to anyone who opposes his LGBT agenda.

Overall, the big picture with Delta underscores the problem with corporate virtue signaling. These companies don’t merely engage in advocacy to create a better business environment. They promote the left’s belief that the problem with society is you, the customer. To these corporations, you are the one trashing oceans with your excessive use of straws, you are responsible for violence because of your support for the 2nd Amendment, and you are “evil” for believing marriage is between a man and a woman.

Isn’t it time to tell Delta to tone down the activism and focus on serving you, and the millions who would rather patronize companies that stay out of political and social debates?

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