This is a follow-up post to our original post in May.
We are here sitting in a hotel room in Taichung, Taiwan in middle of writing our book about bridging cultures. Over the last week, there has been an unbelievably cynical strain of criticism that is sweeping the nation over the now-passed SF straw ban. Friends, family, and fans all over the world are showing us articles and comments about us. Everyone knows we give zero fucks about short-sighted people. But we do care about our community (including our team members across the country) and how to equip them with a way to fulfill our #dialoguewins goal. This post is for you.
We don’t want to re-hash our original post. We stand by every word we said. And yes, the most recent SF Chronicle article sheds light on some of the backstory of our search for a viable straw replacement. The new ordinance in SF will go into effect on July 1, 2019. That gives us about a year to find our solution.
As of right now, we are likely going with paper straws. We’ve already shared that with the public on Instagram Stories two weeks ago. We hope to also subsidize that with some reusable solutions like metal or alternative material straws that you can purchase at our stores very soon. (An hour from where we are right now in Taiwan, there is a supplier that makes straws out of sugar cane... it’s pretty f*cking amazing.) Many of you know we’ve been looking into this for over a year. We saw these bans coming. We pride ourselves on being pretty globally-minded, so we got wind of cities and countries like Taiwan proposing a ban from pretty early on.
The issue we have right now is the astonishing amount of criticism coming from the anti-straw ban movement, especially from those who don’t do their homework. We get that there are a million issues to solve as our world is a f*cked up place. Yes, maybe the straw ban won’t materially impact the amount of plastic we consume. And yes, we should still dedicate more resources to the homeless. The world is conflating all the issues and we need to stop that sh*t. My old business school professors used to scold me when I confused strategy and tactics. Years later, I now know what it feels like!
We’re just really good at complaining. If you know us or work for us, you know we f*cking HATE whiners. Like allergic. Nothing gets done with whining. And those people laughing at us or saying how foolish we are... let them laugh. Just take it. Don’t retaliate or trade blow for blow. That is not the Boba Guys way. We have ALWAYS been on the right side of history. Most of you know I am a die-hard Hamilton: The Musical fan. One of my favorite lines is, “History has its eyes on you.” It’s true. We can’t forget that.
To bring back some Professor Frank Schultz, I will talk strategy. This straw ban is about two things:
1) Changing consumer behavior about straws
2) Reducing the amount of ocean plastic that harms marine life
#1 is obviously working because everyone and their mother is talking about it. Starbucks also joined the cause, so that’s that. Mission accomplished.
#2 is what people forget. The small plastics that get into our ocean do truly harm marine life. We already got rid of microplastics like those tiny beads that used to be in our soap. If someone thinks the straw ban won’t help the marine waste situation, they’re probably also a climate change denier— and we’re not down with that. We’re pretty patient with people, but we’re also allergic to ignorance. We got more problems to fix than convince them of the basics.
For the record, politically, Bin and I are both centrists. We work with both sides of local and federal governments on a variety of issues, so it should be clear that we’re not extremists. (Some would say we are SOLIFICOs, if you know what that means.) That being said, we do think it’s irresponsible to say that rules and regulations are bad. It’s how the anti-straw ban comes off. While it might not be their intention, the vitriol and viligence in that community is extreme. As a former marketer, I am drawn to public perception. I can tell you it comes off as “Don’t take away our guns. Don’t take away our straws!” We do not endorse this rhetoric.
However good the intentions are, you don’t win any arguments by attacking people... especially us. Again, Bin and I could care less. We’ve been in the public eye for seven years. We’ve learned to understand how media and public commentary works. But as families, friends, and fans who are associated with us, we understand it might put you in an awkward position to some of your peers who ascribe to this myopic mentality. Our best recommendation is to point people to a common goal.
Rules and regulations are goal-agnostic. Some rules work, some don’t. It’s not black and white. Some bans have worked in the past and some haven’t. The larger concern is that we as a society, especially Americans, rarely have a big picture mindset. If you know your history or read more about what happens in the world around you, it should be obvious that this ban is likely on the right side of history. We’re not banning silly things like shoes or contact lenses. We’re banning straws of which there are many suitable replacements. Yes, those solutions aren’t readily available just yet, but we’ll get there. That’s why we hate cynicism. We prefer to be optimistic about it. Being cynical gets you nowhere.
The city obviously knows about the supply issue. We warned them about it a month ago. We even told them our stance when SF Chronicle reached out to us. One of the reasons we even informed a large part of the SF Chronicle is to hold the city and SF Environment accountable. In this particular case, they understand the big picture and the impact of supply on small businesses. We are here to balance both sides. Focus on the goal and tackle the tactics one by one.
The best way to describe what’s happening is at the end of Infinity War. *spoilers ahead* We love our memes and one of our favorites is when Doctor Strange explains to Tony that “there was no other way.” Out of 14 million plus possibilities, this is the only way. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean there won’t be casualties, but this is what we think is our best path toward progress. Blame us for helping wipe out half the population in the universe— or just wait and see what happens in Infinity War 2. ;) We’re hopeful that it’ll be all right in the long run.
Keep on sucking.
-Andrew & Bin