If you grabbed a newspaper this morning or follow the morning news, you might have heard that a new bill was introduced in the City Council that would ban single-use straws in restaurant establishments throughout NYC. This is a monumental year for environmental activists, as this is one of two bills that take a stand against the enormous amount of plastic humans produce in society (earlier last month, Governor Cuomo introduced a bill earlier last month to ban single-use plastic bags a year after he blocked a proposal for a $.05 fee for using these bags in the city).
How can these bans benefit us?
- Less trash on the streets and on our beaches. How many of you are tired of dodging tumbling plastic bags in the city streets, or stumbling across garbage that litters what used to be clean, sandy beaches and waters?
- We’ve all seen the video of the sea turtle getting a straw extracted from its nostrils. Who doesn’t love turtles? By banning single-use plastic bags and straws, we are taking more precautions to protect sea life that often confuse plastic bags for jellyfish, or accidentally ingest straws while searching for food.
- We send a strong message to the plastic production industry to seek alternatives to plastic. There are already organizations around the world that have innovated products that are compostable and plant-based, and some restaurants have adopted these products in their establishments. Here are some shout-outs to the places that use these products already (there are definitely more that have slipped my mind, so if you know of any in your corner of the world, shout them out in the comments!):
- compostable bags: Jollibee, Spring Street Natural
- bamboo straws: New Leaf Eatery (Siem Reap)
- compostable utensils: Cava, Oceanside Grill
- paper straws: Frenchette, Carroll Gardens
How can you do your part to use less plastic in your daily life?
- BYOBS. Okay, I made that up…but that means “bring your own bag and straw”! There are plenty of options when it comes to canvas tote bags and other non-plastic material bags that you can tuck away in your usual bag; you might even have some of these bags in your home already! When it comes to reusable straws, you can easily find some stainless steel, glass, or bamboo straws online and order sets of 4 or more 🙂
- Refuse. When you go to restaurants and order drinks, remember to ask your server not to give you a straw! It is almost customary for servers to bring you your drink with the straw already in the cup, so a quick reminder when you place your order would be super helpful.
- Recycle. If you don’t have an option but to use single-use plastics, check the packaging for the number and see if you can recycle it!
This is by no means the “super” solution to our issue with waste generation (we still produce 300 million tons of plastic each year globally, and in the US alone we produced over 254 million tons of trash in 2013), but this is a step in the right direction. I hope that these two bills get passed and that we can start taking better care of our environment for our generation and for the future ones to come.