Strawless in Seattle. On Sunday, Seattle became the first major city in the U.S. to ban plastic straws and utensils. The ban is part of a 2008 ordinance that banned any one-time-use food-service items that aren’t recyclable or compostable. The city made an exception for straws and utensils, since alternatives to plastic were hard to come by at the time.
That exemption ended on June 30. Businesses that don’t comply with the ban can now face a $250 fine.
The Problem With Plastic. Humans have dumped an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic into the Earth’s marine environments; we add another 8 million metric tons every year. It’s no secret that this plastic is wreaking havoc on the planet. Maybe you’ve seen that video of the sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nostril, or read about the whale that died after eating a plastic DVD case. Some plastics break down into microplastics that hurt all marine life. Those microplastics can even find their way into the water we drink.
Following (and starting) a Trend. Seattle is far from alone in taking a stand against plastic straws. Various companies in the U.S., including Alaska Airlines and Bon Appétit, have already stopped using them. Pressure is mounting on McDonald’s to follow suit. The governments of various cities and nations across the globe have either already banned the straws or set dates for one, too.
Every day, people in the U.S. use and discard an estimated 50 million straws. Now that a major U.S. city has taken a stand against these polluting tubes, others around the country could do the same, helping bring an end to the environmental destruction they cause.