By Taylor Lobb
Plastic tools that are used for a few minutes, only to contribute to a lasting detriment on the environment. Straws are non biodegradable, and were the “sixth most commonly collected item during California coastline cleanup” from 1989 to 2014, according to USA Today.
Over the past year, a global campaign has ignited to ban their usage altogether. California, being surrounded by coastline, began cracking down last year.
Oceans are being desecrated and animals of all kinds that tend to live on the coast, are having their life spans shortened due to the build up of plastic straws over the past decade.
A recent bill, AB 1884, has been put into place that requires dine-in restaurants to only supply straws upon request. If those establishments do not comply, they will be faced with a fine anywhere from twenty five to 1000 dollars or up to sixth months of jail time. In more severe cases, both, according to the New York Times.
The detriment that straws are causing is said to be irreversible and highly dangerous by congressman Ian C. Calderon, who was the first to attempt to implement the bill. In doing so, he hoped not to criminalize the usage, but to in turn raise awareness and curb the lasting destruction to wildlife and the environment overall.
It is no secret that plastic is hardly biodegradable. What makes plastic so difficult to break down is a substance called BPA, which “cannot be recycled,” according to 1millionwomen.com. The environment is able to break down plastic, but only into smaller pieces never truly eliminating it, due to the levels of BPA in the plastic.
But if BPA is in all plastic material, then why are straws the only item being targeted?
This has to do with their short life span. Straws are used for twenty minutes at a time and can spend years, even decades in the ocean.
Another reason straws are known to be so damaging is the massive amounts we use.
Scuba diver Kasey Turner proved this when she went for her regular dive excursion on the coast of Australia and collected 319 straws in a span of twenty minutes, as reported by
Another diver went out to the same spot and, in one week’s time, collected a total of 150.
In place of plastic straws, vendors are now pushing to supply restaurants with a more eco-friendly alternative that may help diminish the high volume that are disposed of per day. The alternative straws are made of things such as paper, ultimately suppressing the amount of BPA products that are thrown away.
Stainless steel or bamboo are better options, decreasing the life span of straws significantly. These materials are lasting, providing a reusable option.
This will appease those who were outraged by the recent amendment to the bill that made it illegal for businesses to supply the straws without a request. Many questioned Calderon’s case, saying there are tons of other materials used in restaurants that are wasted, such as napkins and tiny umbrella toppers for alcohol.
However, Calderon is not the only one to join this global campaign for economic change. Assembly bill 319 is currently in the works, which would potentially require all single use plastic bottles to “have their caps tethered or otherwise affixed,” according to USA Today.
So, those who are reluctant to accept the new bill should be prepared for even more regulations in the near future.