I love "durable" ephemera. This may be a contradictory term, considering that ephemera is supposed to be, well, ephemeral. But what better way to describe items that are indeed meant to be thrown away, but could last longer just by the very materials from which they're made?
Today, that item is swizzle sticks. I LOVE these things! Swizzle sticks are one of those items that you never see anymore, and here's my guess why: cost, and public outcry.
And really, both reasons make sense. When you take a look at the oldest sticks in my collection, you can just tell that they're that really hefty plastic, the kind where, if you try and bend it, it gets all white-ish before it breaks. Today's plastics are so much thinner than yesteryear's. Just think of the cost it took to make those! The second reason is our awareness of the waste involved in creating these sticks. They are certainly ephemeral in that they were designed for one-time use. They're so cool, and considering all of the other waste out there it seems foolish to pick on just one item, but I'm sure that advocacy groups had something to say about them (Starbucks has a similar "stick" for their coffee, however!).
I love swizzle sticks because to me, they hearken back to a time when going to a restaurant was a BIG deal. A lot of times these weren't the fanciest restaurants, either! I can only speak from my experience but when my sister and I were growing up it was a major deal just to go to McDonald's! Something like Big Boy or Perkins - that was MAJOR. And if we ever ventured into a steak house or some such, well - someone else was likely paying. :D We just didn't have the money for such frivolity!
But you just knew you were in a special place when a drink, even a "kiddie cocktail", came with a grown-up swizzle stick. I remember being about 12 and feeling quite cosmopolitan stirring my 7-Up with one. :D
I only have one swizzle stick that is mine personally - that's the Air Canada one. The rest are from estate sales or Ebay lots. I do plan on using them in my artwork - I haven't figured out how I want to do that just yet.