The Plastic Straw Ban

During the beginning of my transition to a more sustainable and zero waste lifestyle, I tried my hardest to refuse as many straws as possible. Unfortunately, it looks like waiters and waitresses will continue to put straws in people’s drinks, despite how much you try to refuse them. But, what’s the big deal?

Plastic straws have been around since the 1960’s when TV dinners, plastic dolls, and other items entered into mainstream consumerism.

According to This country is on a mission to stop straws sucking the life out of our oceans “it is estimated that by 2050, the weight of all of the plastic in the ocean will be more than the weight of all the fish”. These numbers aren’t widely discussed in mainstream media, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. The lack of coverage has resulted in people not thinking twice about accepting plastic straws and other useless disposable plastic items. Is there a way that we can get the actual employees and places themselves to stop offering these useless items?

Banning different plastic items is nothing new. In 2014, California became the first state to enact a legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at retail stores. The bill also required a 10-cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations. The law as set to come into effect in July of 2015 and has lead to many other states, cities, and towns around the United States doing the same. The plastic bag ban has allowed for less plastic bags to end up in the landfill and opened people’s eyes to the possibility of reducing their personal plastic waste.

In 2017, restaurant, diner, and cafe owners in Seattle Washington, conducted a little experiment. They got rid of all of the straws in their drinks to see if people noticed that something was missing. Guess what? Only a few people asked for the straws. As a result, the city of Seattle has decided to go through with a ban on plastic straws, with the possibility for more plastic items being banned in the future. This hasn’t officially happened as of yet, but it’s exciting to see more and more places deciding to ban or put a tax on these unnecessary plastic items. Many places are supplying a biodegradable paper straw alternative, but it’s also important to note the amount of money that these restaurants, diners, and cafes will save by not constantly purchasing plastic straws.

This has helped inspired more cities to start banning plastic straws. In 2018 many cities and towns in Rhode Island banned plastic straws and bags. This has forced more to start bringing their own bags at the grocery store and use paper or metal straws. At restaurants, hospitals, schools, diners, and fast food establishments they do allow for plastic straws upon request. They have been taken out of stores, parties, events, and other areas of the community. In 2019, Washington DC banned plastic straws and stirrers as well- allowing for restaurant owners, schools, hospitals, convenient stores, and other places to use up what they have by the July 2019. They will have a “biodegradable” option for those who request a plastic straw.

This ban seems like a small change, but it will result in more people learning to live without these useless plastic items. Hopefully, by 2050, the numbers will explain how much mainstream consumers and business owners are trying to help save our oceans. Many may ask, why don’t we try and stop the companies who are actually manufacturing and selling these items to the restaurants, stores, diners, and cafes? By refusing these items, we as customers are creating less of a demand for them. In a world dependent on supply-and-demand markets, this will result in more manufactures trying producing these paper straws that can biodegrade in the compost.

If you live in a city or town that hasn’t banned plastic straws yet, you can still make a difference by refusing plastic straws in your drink. I also highly recommend talking with your local diners, restaurants, and cafes about the dangers that plastic straws have on our oceans and planet. Want to do more? You can sign the Last Straw Petition to help encourage more and more places to see the dangers that these useless plastic items have on our planet!

For more information on the plastic ban please visit these websites:

http://blueplanetsociety.org/2017/12/turning-tide-ocean-plastics/

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/movement-under-way-to-rid-outer-banks-of-plastic-straws/

https://pebblemag.com/news/plastic-straws-communities-getting-rid-of-waste