I'd love to know what Marvin Stone would think of the plastic straw debate. He's the man who invented the paper straw, which he had patented 1888. People happily used paper straws for over 70 years, until the plastics industry made their version, which started being widely used in the 1960's.
It was around 1.5 years ago that I wrote this blog post about how I had ditched plastic straws when dining out. Dropping them was my New Year's resolution in January 2017, so it's been 2.5 years since now. I haven't missed them, that's for sure. It hasn't been perfect, I can tell you, because there are some restaurants that have brought me my drink with the plastic straw already in the glass. Ugh. But for the most part, I've saved many plastic straws from myself, as well as for those who are dining out with me, because I usually have extras to hand out. (I've been using the same set of stainless steel straws at home for nearly 12 years now.)
Fast forward to recent weeks, and there are numerous cities in Volusia County that are considering plastic straw bans. Kudos to those city and county council members who are open to the idea and give it serious consideration. I was thrilled (seriously thrilled) when Governor DeSantis vetoed a ban on banning straws in the state in May. This paved the way for Florida cities to move forward in doing what is right for the planet, rather than what is right for those making plastic straws.
The average person uses 38,000 straws in their lifetime. Every day in the US there are 500 million straws used. These straws are not earth friendly or biodegradable. My family has participated in many beach cleanups and we always find straws littering the beach. I'm surprised that any beach communities allow restaurants to use plastic straws or single use take-out plastic containers and plastic utensils. Florida has a vested interest in protecting its beaches, and allowing all that single use plastic is not looking out for the health of the beach or the animals that inhabit it.
It's a shame that it has to come to needing to ban plastic straws. You would think that restaurants would just want to do the right thing without the law stepping in to make them do it. I've recently been to a few restaurants that have made the switch to paper straws on their own. I appreciate that, thank you! But most restaurant continue to give out plastic straws, so initiatives have to be taken, and people need to be educated on the problems associated with single use plastic.
I've read some comments where people say that paper straws fall apart. I've been using them when dining out for 2.5 years and I've never had one fall apart. In fact, I have tried using them for hours at home to see if it will fall apart, and it will last all day long. No problem at all. I'm sure there are some companies that make poor quality paper straws. Don't buy those, buy the made in the USA ones by Aardvark Paper Straws (buying made in USA also saves on the carbon footprint). Some people ask why pick on plastic straws, when there are lots of other single plastic products being used? Trust me, there are people working on positive changes in those areas, too!
I've heard some say that making the switch will increase costs, which will be passed on to consumers. As a consumer, I say okay, that's fine, as long as it's the actual extra cost being passed on to consumers. Meaning that maybe it adds a few pennies onto the cost of my drink, it's very doubtful the increase would add dollars per drink. If there is an increase in costs, it's not going to be much at all. Keeping plastic straws doesn't save consumers money, because there's an environmental cost that we are all paying.
When it comes down to it, there is no logical argument for keeping plastic straws in restaurants, and numerous reasons why they should go.When we can do better, we should.
Recently, I came across a local organization called Green Dream Volusia that is leading the fight against single use plastic in this county. I applaud their activism and efforts. If you are passionate about the issue and want to join them, or want to learn more about single use plastics, contact them.
People don't like change, I get that. But once the change is made they see that all is fine, and meanwhile there are environmental benefits that come from making the changes. I encourage Volusia County restaurants to ditch the plastic straws (replace all single use plastics with earth friendly products), and I encourage the city council's to support the plastic straw bans. It's better for the city and the environment, and trust me when I say nobody will go thirsty without a plastic straw (or 38,000 of them).
- Jacqueline Bodnar
Check out the videos below to learn more about plastic straws (and other single use plastics):