The war against plastic straws lost a little momentum this week after the Canadian Green Party was found to have photoshopped a picture of party leader Elizabeth May to show her drinking from a reusable cup with a metal straw.
The original, undoctored image of May shows the politician holding a single-use paper cup while attending a street fair in the city of Victoria, with no straw in sight.
According to a statement from May, a "well-meaning" party staffer altered this image to make it appear that she was holding a reusable cup sporting the Green Party logo and a metal straw.
The new and improved picture was added to the home page of the Green Party website before the Canadian National Post blew the whole thing up by pointing out that previously published versions of the image showed a strawless May at the fair.
"I was completely shocked to find that the party had photoshopped an image of me," May said in her statement. "I never drink from plastic water bottles. I always carry my own reusable coffee cup. I carry my own bamboo utensils. I walk the talk every day."
The minor scandal comes at a tough time for Canadian plastic straws. The city of Vancouver has already banned them. The government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced its intention to ban plastic straws, bags, and other single-use utensils as early as 2021.
The Canadian Green Party's 2019 platform calls for the ban of not only straws, but also single-use plates, cups, lids, cutlery, cotton buds, drink stirrers, cigarette filters, plastic water bottles, carryout bags, and balloons by January 2022.
The idea behind these bans is to address the serious global issue of marine plastic pollution. However, Canada, and rich countries more generally, are responsible for a very small percentage of this plastic waste, most of which comes from poorer Asian and African countries with undeveloped waste management systems.
Banning single-use plastic items in Canada won't make the world's oceans significantly less plasticky, but it sure makes for good headlines, especially when the headlines are about editing meaningless symbolism into a photo opportunity.