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Should Seattle Ban Plastic Straws?


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Jul 2, 2018

Should Seattle Ban Plastic Straws?

Seattle, say goodbye to straws!  Seattle is the first major U.S. city to prohibit plastic drinking straws. Backed by Adrian Grenier, the “Strawless Ocean Initiative” is a movement focused on creating a more environmentally responsible country and world.  They do this through working for the elimination of plastic straws in the United States.  Supported by Grenier, the hashtag #StopSucking has gone viral and is a slogan of the new campaign.  This ban is applicable throughout the entire city, including all supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias.  Violating this new regulation could lead to a $250 fine; however, Seattle political leaders do identify this new ban’s main goal of raising awareness, not fining citizens.     Why focus on straws you may ask?  Plastic straws are very light in weight, making it difficult for them to be processed through the industrial recycling sorters used for recyclable materials.  The “ocean” part of the movement ties into the impact plastic materials have on ocean and ocean-life. The organization, “Strawless Ocean”, approximates “that 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have some kind of plastic in their stomachs.”  This statistic worsens when it is coupled with the notion that “ingested plastic can increase the mortality rate of marine life by 50%.”  There is definitely documented harm to oceans and the animals that inhabit it from plastic pollution.  Back in September, Seattle underwent a type of pilot study in which 150 businesses did not use straws.  This “test run” was intended to measure the true impact of eliminating straws from Seattle businesses and see if this model would be applicable on a larger scale, such as the entire city of Seattle.  The pilot study yielded a reduction of about 2.3 million straws!  The #StopSucking campaign is hopeful for this initiative: “Imagine a world where we could stop consuming 500 million straws a day, just in America! Imagine a world that is less dependent on plastic. That’s change we can start today!”   I have heard opposition to this legislation from different perspectives.  However, I noticed an interesting perspective from the disability community.  Some individuals with a variety of physical and sensory disabilities and/or injuries require the use of straws to drink.  This article states that those with a health condition will be able to use straws; however, they are now far less accessible than they previously were.  However, this campaign does seem to produce beneficial effects on the environment and can make a difference on a large-scale.   What is your opinion on this debate?  Do you think there should be a complete ban on all straws, or should their elimination be a personal choice decided by each individual?  When do environmental concerns outweigh individual preferences, and how should this be measured?     Link (for article):  Link (for picture):  


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