Banning Plastic Straws. . . . Is That Really the Big Issue?

Maxwell Timmer, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

In late July, California cities caused controversy by banning plastic straws to be used in food chains and in day-to-day uses.

“In June, the city of Santa Barbara passed a bill banning the distribution or sale of plastic straws at bars, restaurants and other establishments, with plastic stirrers and cutlery only available upon request,” said Ewan Walker, a reporter for Newsweek.

While the ban is in effect, punishments for breaking the ban include fines and even jail time in some cases. According to an article by the Assistant Director of Reason, Christian Britschgi, fines in Santa Barbara can reach up to $1,000 and jail time up to six months can be in effect if you violate the law.

Other major companies, such as Starbucks, have followed suit and banned straws and plastic lids from their locations.

“Starbucks is finally drawing a line in the sand and creating a mold for other large brands to follow. We are raising the water line for what’s acceptable and inspiring our peers to follow suit,” said Chris Milne, director of packaging and sourcing for Starbucks.

While many believe the United States is the country putting the most plastic into our oceans, the stats say otherwise. According to an article by the New York Post, ten rivers, from Asia and Africa, are responsible for 90% of the plastic pollution in the oceans.

The United States, according to Stastica, only produces .30 million of the plastic that ends up in the oceans, while China produces about 8.8 million of it. Even smaller countries like Brazil and Malaysia pour more plastic into the oceans than the United States.

While lawmakers in California are focusing on issues that they believe are important, 134,278 people are still homeless in California, the largest in any state of the United States.