California is leading the charge against plastic straws with a new bill requiring restaurants to distribute straws only to customers who have specifically asked for one—otherwise the straws would be prohibited from being offered, displayed, or readily available.
The legislation received a favorable 45-20 vote from the Assembly and is now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature for it to become law. (Brown signed a similar law in 2014 which prohibited the use of plastic bags in grocery stores, liquor stores and pharmacies.)
The bill does not include fast food chains—only full-service, dine-in restaurants.
Check it out:
California is about to become the first state to restrict plastic straws at restaurants after lawmakers sent a bill to the governor. https://t.co/57ZcuktRq6
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) August 24, 2018
Commenters on Twitter had mixed reactions.
Some were all for it:
yes, CA !!!!! https://t.co/kl2chOfqHN
— em (@emilydailey12) August 23, 2018
I’m ok with that.
If straws are shown to harm wildlife, then I can drink from the cup.
— ⭕️Occam's Comb⭕️ (@tonygaj) August 23, 2018
>see that 99% of ocean plastic comes from industrial waste and corporate fishing
— Raptor (@Raptornx01) August 23, 2018
But there were quite a few commenters who were either unenthused or unconvinced:
Only 1% of the plastic in the oceans is from the U.S. and then only a fraction of that 1% is straws. This restriction will do nothing except make lefties feel good about themselves.
— Common Sense (@Ricksense) August 24, 2018
I'm a bit of a newbie #libertarian. I guess you can call me a #babybat libertarian. So I think such laws are crazy, but I encourage green choices on an individual level. As long as there's no big public health risk that requires government intervention.
— OfGilda (@Birdboy029) August 24, 2018
This doesn't excite me
— Camellia (@Camellia_Alexan) August 23, 2018
According to the California Coastal Commission, straws are the sixth most common item found during beach cleanups. The agency reported collecting 835,425 straws during cleanups between 1988 and 2016.
But many Twitter users seem to think the ban is unnecessary:
Reusable straws are already readily available in the marketplace
Biodegradable straws may not be far behind
— Scott Haile (@scottchaile) August 24, 2018
Aren’t they like only 5% of plastic in oceans, doesn’t the majority come from fishing? More specifically bad fishing practices and supplies?
— Richard Grey (@RichardGrreat) August 24, 2018
Ian Calderon, a Democrat from Whittier, CA, , put forth the legislature, claiming it will enable the state to meet solid waste goals as well cut down on pollution.
Acknowledging that straws are a necessity for the disabled, he told BuzzFeed News:
It’s something that’s a convenience that we’re just used to but it is generally — for most people — unnecessary. It’s a small step, but in the scheme of things, it’s a significant step because before we even started to take this step nobody was talking about it.
Commenters were concerned for the disabled, though it’s clear the bill would not prohibit plastic straws altogether:
Great, but need a idea for the disabled.
— vjean (@vjjhg) August 24, 2018
Why is no one listening to the disabled community? Plastic straws aren't even a major part of the plastic in oceans issue ffs.
— Monique Justine (@ducckymomo) August 24, 2018
Although there’s been an ongoing movement to ban or regulate plastic straws for more than ten years, the initiative gained traction in 2015 when a video of a sea turtle having a straw removed from one of its nostrils went viral.
This commenter seems to think the ban doesn’t go far enough, urging restaurants to offer paper straws when someone needs one:
They should stock paper straws for those requests. Like most restaurants at the beach.
— S-A-V-A-G-E (@swaye77) August 24, 2018
If made into a law, cities and counties would still be free to adopt stricter ordinances to mandate plastic straw distribution.