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This could be the last straw for California

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

California makes it mandatory for restaurants to only supply straws upon requests.

By Meg Taylor, News Editor

Malibu recently passed an ordinance banning the distribution of plastic straws in hopes to motivate California and the nation to follow their lead for environmental reform.     

Assembly Bill 1884 follows a “straws-upon-request” policy requiring restaurants to distribute drinks without plastic straws unless otherwise requested. Around 500 million straws are used each day, accumulating to 175 billion each year. These single-use, non-biodegradable utensils cause severe harm to the ocean, wildlife and the environment. Under the law, restaurants that continued to distribute plastic straws would receive two warnings and would then be subject to per-day fines of $25 apiece, paying a maximum of $300 in fines per year if they continued to purposefully object the law.

According to California State Assembly Member Ian Calderon via Twitter, “I’d like to clarify that #AB1884 (Straws Upon Request) is (a) NOT a ban; (b) should it become law, it will NOT make it a crime for servers to provide plastic straws. My intention is simply to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic straws on our environment.”

Plastic straws are made from fossil fuels and other various plastics, so these small utensils are almost never recycled.  According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, “Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter.”

“It is essential for the future of humanity that we reduce the amount of plastic waste we are leaving on this planet,” said Jordan Lieberman, Malibu resident of 20 years.  “Adopting this ordinance is such a minor thing to do in the grand scheme of life and the environment will benefit largely from it.”

Besides the straws-upon-request policy, Malibu is also making it a requirement that restaurants only provide environmentally friendly, non-plastic cutlery, straws, and stirrers. Some alternatives to plastic straws include metal, stock glass, stainless steel and bamboo straws. Restaurants have until June 1st this year to transition to more sustainable products.

Spruzzo’s in Point Dume has already implemented this policy into their restaurant. “Our straws are made out of paper,” said Spruzzo’s waiter Marcus, “and all take out utensils are made from corn.”

Getting California on board with Assembly Bill 1884 the ways in which Malibu has may not be as easy. Although there is substantial evidence to prove their environmental harm, many people do not want to be rid of plastic straws. They have been universally used daily for decades to drink soda, coffee, smoothies, and more.

“I don’t think people are going to want to drink their milkshakes out of a paper straw,” said Los Angeles Valley College Student Emily Jackson. The 20-year-old California native said. “I believe the intentions behind this bill are good; I just don’t think that it’s practical.”


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