Let’s go strawless
Last week, Suffolk County Legis. Kara Hahn and environmental groups proposed that county restaurants and other businesses should consider curtailing the use of plastic straws this summer. That’s a good thing, but here’s a question we should be asking all of our lawmakers: why not just work on banning plastic straws all year long? That would be even better. Let’s try to go plastic strawless.
Understandably, change does take time. Kudos goes to the county’s Single Use Plastic Reduction Task Force, which has been exploring all possibilities of lessening the amount of pollution due to plastic debris.
Reportedly, some 500 million straws are disposed of daily in the United States. They either end up in landfills or littering our landscape and waterways, endangering land and marine wildlife. However, according to a July 6, 2018 article in National Geographic (www.nationalgeographic.com), of the 8 million tons of plastic flowing into the ocean every year, straws make up only a small part of it (0.025 percent). That’s still a lot of straws out there, but they’re the focus right now primarily because they aren’t necessary utensils like spoons and forks. One can still drink from a glass, cup, can or bottle without them. There are some individuals with disabilities that do require the flexibility of plastic straws, though. So why not propose a new law to ban them locally, save for those who require them for therapeutic reasons?
Seattle recently became the largest U.S. city to ban the use of plastic straws. New York City and San Francisco are currently moving toward banning them as well. It’s been reported that several U.S. food service companies and Alaska Airlines have also pledged to begin phasing them out, as is McDonald’s restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland. Maybe the fast-food chain will consider doing that in the U.S., too.
These changes in the use of plastic all over the world, though small, will no doubt have an impact on lessening the amount of debris that pollutes. Any change made locally will have an impact, too. But more importantly, it will encourage people to look for alternatives to using these harmful products. Some items to consider are straws made of paper, reusable metal and the newest idea: pasta straws, a fun, biodegradable—and edible—substitute.
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