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California straw ban in restaurants: what you need to know

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plastic straws
Plastic
straws are becoming taboo. But they’re only a tiny fraction of
the plastic floating in our oceans.


Flickr/LucianVenutian


  • California will ban sit-down restaurants from serving
    customers plastic
    straws
    , starting in 2019.
  • The law doesn’t apply to to-go cups and takeaway
    drinks. 
  • You can still sip your drink if you sit down, but
    you’ll have to ask for the straw.

  • Environmentalists say
    straw bans are just one small way to
    get people thinking about how to reduce their plastic use.

 

California restaurant-goers, your days of sipping from a straw
are numbered. 

California just became the first US state to go strawless:
banning the sippers at sit-down eateries in the state, starting
in 2019.

On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law

Assembly Bill 1884
, a rule that “prohibits dine-in
restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws” to
customers. Violating the law can cost a restaurant $25 a day.

Starting in January, if you really want a straw when you sit down
in a restaurant in the Golden State, you’ll have to ask for it,
or get your drink to go. 

It’s not the first time that California has pioneered a statewide
ban on plastics. In 2016,
California become the first state in the US to ban
most
stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags,
after a successful referendum. But this first-of-its-kind
statewide move comes amidst a surge of straw bans in cities and
businesses around the country and the world. 

A ban on all plastic utensils is already in place in Seattle,
while San Francisco’s straw ban should take effect next year.
Huge companies, from Starbucks to Aramark and American Airlines,
have either vowed to start banning straws or drastically reduce
their use. It’s part of a global movement that’s quickly gaining
momentum as people re-think their single-use plastic habits.

In the UK, Queen
Elizabeth
has ordered that no plastic straws or
bottles appear on her royal estates, while Taiwan wants to
completely get rid of straws on the island by 2025, according to
Taiwan
News

“It’s not really about picking on
straws, 
it’s just that straws
are a form of single use plastic,” Plastic Pollution
Coalition
 CEO Dianna Cohen recently told Business
Insider. 
“They’ve been designed to
be used for a very short amount of time, 
and
then be tossed 
away.
A
nd there is no ‘away.'”

More than 79% of
all plastic waste ends up sitting in landfills
, or ends up
floating out to sea or littering the land. Another 12% gets
burned up in incinerators, adding to particulate matter to the
atmosphere. Only a remaining 9% of the plastic we use is actually
recycled, according to a 2017 report published
in 
Science
Advances
.

[Read More: The
real reason why so many cities and businesses are banning plastic
straws
.
]

When he signed the new bill, Governor Brown lamented that fact,

writing in a release
that plastic has “become so ubiquitous
it now pervades every aspect of our modern life.” 

“Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our
infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous
consequences,” he wrote. In Thailand, a
pilot whale
 died earlier this year, after throwing up a
handful of plastic bags. 80 more were found inside its
stomach. We still don’t know what health consequences the
tiny microplastics floating
in our water supplies might have for humans. 

The habits we’ve developed, Brown said, are “choking our planet.”

Environmentalists argue we don’t have to continue this way.

“It’s almost like forming new synapses in your brain,”
Cohen said of the bans. “W

e can refuse to use
plastic whenever possible, 

and that doesn’t
only include plastic straws.”

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