Reflecting on Straws, One Year Later

UPDATE 9.20.18: Gov. Brown has just signed a bill forbidding full-service restaurants in California from serving single-use plastic straws unless customers request them. Two important notes: Fast-food chains are currently exempt; And, full-service restaurants can keep single-use plastic straws on premises, accessible by customer request only.

ORIGINAL POST 9.08.18: As Summer 2018 comes to a close, we’re lookin’ back on a wild year for plastic straws (and hopeful that the momentum away from single-use plastic continues to build). Let’s quickly review since we launched last year’s Strawless Summer campaign:

We continue to work in Los Angeles County and at the state-level in California to reduce the use of harmful single-use plastics. We LOVE that the plastic straw can now be an ice breaker for a deeper conversation about the growing amount of plastic pollution in our environment.

It’s important to note: we’re not anti-straw. If you need to use a straw, you should have access to a straw.

We are against the proliferation of harmful single-use plastic trash in our oceans. What we do on land has a major impact on local ocean health. There is a real cost to our local environment from plastic pollution and taking action now will prevent more harm and risk.

Often times plastic trash flows from our streets into our storm drains, and ends up in the ocean. Plastic straws and disposable beverage, food, and snack-related items are some of the top types of trash we find at Heal the Bay cleanups. The Ocean Protection Council acknowledges that trash in the ocean is a persistent and growing problem that is negatively affecting human and ecosystem health, not to meantion the coastal beauty.

Straws en masse may be on their way out.

Heal the Bay supports State Assembly Bill (AB) 1884, which prohibits a food facility in California from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer, unless the person requests it; excluding takeout food. While this would be the first piece of legislation to address single-use plastic straws at the state-level, many cities have passed more robust legislation, also known as ordinances. Malibu mandates that all establishments only hand out a single-use plastic straw if a customer asks for one. Some like the City of Santa Monica have gone a step further, mandating that straws are not only upon request, but the ones that are given must be marine degradable. Over 100 municipalities have passed ordinances on the use of harmful plastics, and some specify single-use plastic straws.

Urge the Governor to Act

Take action to encourage the support of local legislation that reduces the distribution of straws by only giving out straws to people upon request. Governor Brown has until September 30th to sign or veto AB 1884 – let him know by email, phone or social media that you support this bill.

(Photo by: Henrique Vicente, Flickr. January 2017.)

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