October 25, 2011

An Open Letter to Toby Keith and His Disposable Red Cup

By SOS intern and writer Sarah Cannon

Dear Mr. Keith,


When I first heard your new song, “Red Solo Cup”, I thought it couldn’t possibly be real, but I was unfortunately mistaken. I understand that it’s supposed to be funny; I get where you were trying to go with it (an ode to your favorite beer receptacle), I really do. That said, there are so many things wrong with this song, I’m having a hard time deciding where to begin. I would like to preface this letter by saying I like beer and fun maybe even as much as you do, but in spite of my affinity for a good time, I still have some issues with this song that I’m not able to excuse right off the bat.

As someone who spends quite a lot of time picking up trash at the beaches and has seen firsthand the damage single-use items can cause, I have to object to your love affair with plastic.

Plastic, even in the form of a beer-holding receptacle, is NOT your friend (although the plastic industry may like you to think it is). It’s not friends with the ocean, either, or with wildlife. Contrary to your lyrics, red solo cups are not decomposable in 14 years (in fact, they can take hundreds of years to decompose completely). Plastic never goes away; it only breaks down into smaller pieces that absorb toxic chemicals, are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain (ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, anyone?).

And I’m guessing you also didn’t know that the state of California alone spends around $72 million per year to collect and dispose of one-time use disposable cups (*ahem*, red solo cups) and bags? I know that political correctness isn’t exactly your thing, Mr. Keith, but I sincerely hope you weren't aware of these facts when you wrote this song. After all, I can’t imagine that you would encourage people to purchase and use items that will directly harm wildlife and the health of our environment… Just check out the stomach contents of this bird that died after consuming tiny pieces of plastic that came from sources like your red solo cup.


Although I know it wasn't your intent to promote unnecessary plastic use at the expense of the oceans, that’s exactly what you've ended up doing. I think we’d both agree that you’re no expert on the decomposition rates of plastic, but your fans are still going to take your word for it.

I’m trying not to think about how many Toby Keith fans are going to think of your song the next time they go shopping for their “beer receptacles”… but since your video is averaging around 100,000 views a day on YouTube, the number is going to be very high (and I mean panic-attack inducing high). Your song, which was intended to be fun and silly, has potentially influenced people to make a harmful and dangerous choice.

I would like to humbly suggest that in the future, you be aware of the far-reaching (and unintentional) effects that your lyrics can have. Your fame gives you a unique responsibility (and opportunity!) to have a wide-reaching influence. By doing just a little more research and being a tiny bit more attentive to the message you’re sending, a song like this could end up sending a positive message about using less plastic while still shining a spotlight on your fun-loving side; the proverbial “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone,” if you will. I mean, red solo cups aren’t even all that great! Reusable cups are way, way better (and they even come in red)!

I hope you will join me in reducing plastic use by becoming a part of the solution!

Signed,
Sara Cannon



Toby Keith's lyrics promoting a disposable lifestyle in Red Solo Cup:

"Now a red solo cup is the best receptacle for barbecues, tailgates fairs and festivals,
And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glass.
A red solo cup is cheap and disposable,
In 14 years they are decomposable,
And unlike my home, they are not foreclosable,
Freddy Mac can kiss my ***. Woo"!

21 comments:

  1. Aw, Toby. That's kinda lame, dude : (

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  2. Toby Keith: Maybe you can do a new song and call it pluckfastic!

    : )

    I'd buy it.

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  3. This is ridiculous. It was a song intended to be funny and you took it very seriously. You say that you party as much as Toby Keith, but after reading this article I would guess you have never been to a party because you can't seem to see the humorous sides of things. Please don't be angry because someone made a funny song intended for comedic purposes.

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    1. I heard the song from a very good group of friends that I do a lot of partying with, and I have been a Toby Keith fan as long as I can remember. But when I first heard this song, I thought it was completely ridiculous. I didn't laugh once. I know it was intended to be funny, but I thought it was quite "dry". Seeing how it was from "I Love This Bar," but doesn't he like to drink his beer from a mason jar?

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  4. "And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glass."

    And you, sir, do not know what good beer is if you are drinking it from a plastic cup.

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  5. Survival of the fittest. If they're going to eat non- food items they're just following the natural selection. Deal with it. I don't promote trashing wildlife habitats either, that lies on the fans shoulders, not his. Though I'm sure a short note at the end of the song to promote proper disposal might help.

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  6. I used solo cups before and I will after this song...just saying...

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  7. What scientific fact is Mr. Keith basing his 14 year decomposition claim on?

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  8. I love that song. Bought a bunch tonight for New Year's.

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  9. Yawn..you eco-nuts make me crazy..you do know that (at least in my community) a Red Solo Cup can be placed in the RECYCLE bin.. Why don't you go attack something else, like the 31 BILLION plastic water bottles sold each year that aren't recyclable?

    It's a fun song..

    Oh..and for the record..I drink my beer in Ceramic--from tankards I bought in Germany..

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  10. Toby did not write the song, so do some research yourself!

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  11. This person is not an eco-nut. As big as it is, our world is FINITE, and that 50-pack of solo cups you bought for your New Year's party or whatever, *whether you recycle or not* is gonna still be around hundreds of years after you're dead. All for a few hours of fun. That is quite disgusting.

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  12. Imagine your house as the world, and every time you bought something that doesn't decompose, you couldn't get rid of it. How would you like that crap lying on the floor, and piling up, for the rest of your life? When we dispose of or recycle something, it doesn't go away just because we can't see it.

    We're killing our one and only world RAPIDLY for the sake of convenience. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive, ignorant, or stupid.

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  13. And I love how you "truth lovers" claim they take hundreds of years to decompose. The truth is the first solo cup was made 75 years ago, so until that first cup is gone saying anything other than "it takes more than 75 years" is nothing more than scientific conjecture, not fact. Agenda is not an excuse for inaccurate wording.

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    1. Dumbest thing I have ever read. Conjecture? Its fact.

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    2. actually the first anonymous is probably right its probably not a fact just a educated and logical prediction.

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  14. This letter just takes what would otherwise be considered a valid point seem ridiculous. Do you really think that because a song talks about plastic cups that Toby Keith's fan base is going to run out and buy more plastic cups. I don't

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  15. Just heard the song for the first time. Thought it was catchy. In fact, the radio DJs warned that you'll be singing it all day. The reason I wound up at this site is because of the line of "In 14 years they are disposable." I thought maybe he knew something I didn't, which is why I tried to research it. I'm not one to argue that music will definitely affect the decisions of others, though it can. The things those musicians do or say can make light of a heavy problem, thereby devaluing the impact it should have on us. By the very fact there is a song about Red Solo Cups and not glasses, will cause us to have a happy memory to connect with those plastic cups and thereby make it more likely to get our attention.

    I have and probably will use those Red Solo Cups. However, when possible, I do use recyclable containers such as drinking beer directly from the bottle. (It's usually the keg parties that you go through the most Red Solo Cups, but if you charge by the cup then I bet people would at least be more conscious of their cup use and end up using less.)

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  16. Just want to say to Chris "Right on brother". I am so sick of plastic I could scream, and it is truly trashing the planet. I honestly suspect the makers of Red Solo in paying for the creation and performance of this song! --Anyone with true testicles can take their own dang reusable cups to a party - why are we so freakin' lazy these days? For those morons who forget, google compostable drinking glasses - there are plenty.

    To those dissing Chris: "Sheez. Get over your thinking that the planet should take care of you vs. vice versa."

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  17. I completely agree with Chris and Trudy. While I do not believe that his song is very responsible for the pollution of plastic on earth, I do believe that we need to start making alternitive plastics to combat this major world-destroying problem.

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  18. Unfortunately you are wrong. Have you ever spent a decent amount of time with someone in their 20s? I'm right in the age group and I can tell you for a fact that they are VERY influenced by the songs they hear. Remember the thrift store song? I know many people who went out and started shopping at thrift stores. How about bay area rap? SO many people drinking Hennessey and rollin on thiz because of the songs. The first example is a positive change, the second along with Toby's song is not. Simple plain as day fact, people are influenced by what they surround themselves around, what a concept right?!

    On a side note, there is no such thing as an eco nut, just someone who cares a little more than the next. It's a shitty realization when you realize so many people are ignorant and don't give a fuck to change.

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