I have seen the future, and it is soggy.

Layah Shagalow
4 min readJan 28, 2020

It was summer 2017 and my cousin and I were hiding out from the oppressive New York City heat in the air-conditioned lounge of the newly opened One Brooklyn Bridge Hotel. The place was brand new; a mostly undiscovered hidden gem at the edge of Brooklyn Bridge park. The lounge had a living wall creeping with ivy and greens, and furniture made of cork and wicker. It was the height of hipster.

We sat there, enjoying the cool, dark air, while sipping locally distilled gin and tonic. And then, after about ten minutes, my straw began to disintegrate into a sodden mess of soggy cardboard. I was confused. It was the first biodegradable straw I had even encountered. But as it would turn out, not the last.

As cliche as it sounds, the world has come an incredibly long way from that hot summer day in the city just a few years ago. For one thing, the lounge of that hotel looks entirely different now and is often packed to the gills with wealthy yuppies. I stopped going there a long time ago. But a lot of other things have changed as well. The use of compostable straws, and other once plastic products, abounds. Green energy sources have grown exponentially. A culture of earth conscious behavior is steadily gaining popularity. And this is good. Mostly. Still, it seems that in some ways the incremental growth we have achieved has come at a cost, at least for me…