As of January 1st, 2019, full-service restaurants in California will no longer be allowed to give customers plastic straws unless they are specifically requested.
Humankind has done a lot of damage to the planet, most of it in the last couple of centuries. While advances in technology, travel, and production have been nothing short of incredible, a lot of those advances have negatively damaged Earth as a whole, even if they have made our lives better and a whole lot easier.
Thankfully, more and more people are realizing how much damage we continue to do and are trying to address the problem. One of the hottest issues right now is the exorbitant amount of plastic we get through as a species and how we dispose of it. A survey by Science Advances discovered that in 2015, only 9% of our plastic was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and the remaining 79% simply wound up in the environment.
California has taken steps to help prevent that. The state has become the first in the US to ban full-service restaurants from handing out plastic straws and starting January 1st, 2019, will only be able to do so if a customer specifically asks for one. If restaurants are caught doing so, they will be given two warnings and then receive a $25 dollar per day after that.
Full service means that some eateries will not be included in the ban, such as fast food joints and convenience stores, as outlined by CNN. It's not the first time that California has led the way when it comes to reducing the country's plastic waste. Free single-use plastic bags have been banned in the state since 2014. Hopefully, like in that instance, others will follow suit when it comes to the new laws targetting the use of straws.
Some are arguing that plastic in our oceans is not yet a big enough issue to be tackling. However, the evidence is there for all to see. California Governor, Jerry Brown, revealed in a statement that researchers discovered 80 plastic bags in the stomach of a dead pilot whale that washed ashore in Thailand. Whether single-use plastics are the biggest issue we should be tackling right now or not, it is definitely something we should and can address by following California's example.