Plastic straws are becoming public enemy No. 1 due to their negative impacts on the environment. A new District bill could combat the use of straws in the city.
Plastic straws are a common sight in Washington, D.C. With so many District workers on the run, they often opt for the convenience of iced coffees, sodas, and more. Especially in the summer heat, a cool drink is a must. Well, a recently introduced bill hopes to change residents’ addiction to plastic straws.
D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced the Sustainable Straws and Stirrers Amendment Act of 2018 on Tuesday. If passed, the bill would prevent restaurants from offering non-compostable straws and stirrers to customers, which would effectively ban plastic straws.
Councilmember Evans said in a recent legislative meeting, “We’re just polluting our rivers with this plastic stuff. The plastic straws are a disaster. They’re everywhere!”
Washington, D.C., is already working to get rid of their straws. A coalition called Our Last Straw was formed by restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, and organizations in the Washington, D.C., region to eliminate single-use plastic straws.
Our oceans are currently undergoing what many are calling a “crisis” because of the amount of plastic polluting our waters. It is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans (by weight) in 2050.
Plastic wreaks havoc once in the ocean. Marine animals can become entangled in the plastic, choke on plastic they mistake for food, and even slowly die from starvation as plastic fills their stomachs. While plastic straws are not the only threat to our oceans, they certainly are a major one. A viral video from 2015 shows a sea turtle with a straw dislodged up his nostril. The turtle struggles in pain as a rescuer pulls the straw out of his nostril.
According to Ecocycle.org, Americans use 500 million straws a day! The amount of straws Americans use in a year could fill over 46,400 school buses. This huge amount of straws are an ecological disaster. Even if you recycle a plastic straw it is still likely to end up in the ocean. For A Strawless Ocean says, “Most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials and are too small to separate, contaminating recycling loads or getting disposed as garbage.”
If the bill passes, Washington, D.C., would follow Seattle, which recently became the first U.S. city to ban plastic straws and utensils. Starbucks also just announced their plans to get rid of plastic straws in their stores worldwide.
While straw bans have received criticism from disability rights activists who point out that some people need to use straws, D.C. restaurants will be able to provide customers with more ecologically sound straws for use instead. Customers can also buy their own reusable straws and use those for their cold beverages.
What do you think? Have you pledged to ditch the straw? Let us know in the comments below!