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Next environmental step: banning plastic straws

Hailey Barrow, Assistant Editor

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In an effort to reduce plastic use, restaurants, stores and even cities across the U.S. are banning plastic straws.

    Almost 15 cities have already banned plastic straw use, meaning they don’t allow the usage of plastic straws in their restaurants and other companies. Seattle became the first major city to ban plastic straws on Sept. 16. Over the summer Starbucks also released a statement stating that their stores will completely stop offering plastic straws in the near future, a decision that sparked outrage online.

    “Right now there is a lot of opposition to change because everyone is so used to [using plastic straws],” secondary science teacher Micah Nowak said.

    Major companies and restaurants like American Airlines, Starbucks, Disney World, the Marriott and others have already stopped or are planning to stop offering plastic straws. American Airlines announced they would remove plastic straws from their lounges over the summer of 2018. Starbucks is hoping to eliminate the use of plastic straws in their stores by 2020. Their alternative to plastic straws is a newly designed plastic lid, which is very similar to their lids for hot drinks and eliminates the needs for straws.

    “We are almost a fast food nation, where [plastic straws] are a constant thing, so it will probably take a few years before they eventually [stop being used and offered],” Nowak said.

    The people of the world use about half a million plastic straws everyday, according to the Earth Day Network. This means that half a million straws everyday are thrown into landfills or end up in the ocean. When marine life comes into contact with plastic waste, they can try to eat it and harm their bodies, or their bodies can get stuck in the plastic waste.  

    “Removing plastic straws will reduce the amount of plastic that falls into the ocean. Since plastic isn’t biodegradable, the plastic will be in the ocean and land, [taking] 1,000 years for it to break down to small pieces,” sophomore Sai Devulapalli said.

    Some countries have taken it one step further and banned the use of plastic bags. Australia banned plastic bags in 2011, and since the ban, one-third of all plastic waste sent to the landfill has been eliminated, according to the Earth Day Network. In Boston, a ban will soon be implemented on plastic bags and a five cent tax will be placed on plastic bag use.  

    “[I think we are taking these steps because of] the growing awareness [of] how we are affecting the environment,” junior Caroline Hamon said.

    In Florida, some residents are pushing for a plastic bag ban, but no action has been taken by government officials.   

    “I think that it will become [so] popular that stores and restaurants will start doing it, but not Tallahassee as a whole,” Hamon said.

    The use of plastic straws is slowly coming to an end. Many companies and restaurants are no longer offering plastic straws in effort to reduce waste.   

    “Most people are now aware of how plastic is affecting our wildlife and nature. Most people [didn’t] even know how bad oceans and forests [were] being affected until now. Once people hear that their favorite animal is endangered or almost extinct, then they’re taking action,” Devulapalli said.

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Next environmental step: banning plastic straws