Seattle Stays Ahead Of The Eco-Curve By Banning Straws And Plastic Utensils

Senior Contributor
08.25.17 9 Comments

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Small things can have enormous effects on the environment. Take, for example, straws. You probably don’t think about the straws you use, but Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. Over time, all that plastic trash piles up, both in the making and in the disposal. So, the city of Seattle is out to get rid of the problem, by banning plastic straws and utensils. But it will be a much easier shift than we might think.

Back in 2010, the city of Seattle passed the ban, but an exemption was put in place so restaurants could figure out how to get in compliance. Come July 1st, 2018, the ordinance will be in full effect. But it won’t be BYO spork, necessarily:

“As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils,” [Seattle Public Utilities’ Strategic Adviser for Product Stewardship Sego] Jackson said. “What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. But they also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether.”

Believe it or not, this is just a return to what used to be the status quo. The plastic straw wasn’t commonplace in America until the 1960s; until then, straws were largely made of paper. “Compostable” simply means the utensils degrade in the presence of water and bacteria. They’re widely available from restaurant supply companies and can be made of cornstarch, bamboo, or a host of other renewable materials. Practically speaking, there’s no difference in the eating; it’s just what happens after you chuck them out that matters.

And, of course, there’s no reason you can’t bring your own. Silicon and steel straws are widely available and easy to clean, for example, and if you’re really fussy about it, you can, indeed, bring your own spork. What really matters is that in Seattle, at least, there will be less plastic crap to deal with.

(via Q13 Seattle)

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