New York City Moves Toward Plastic Straw Ban

New York City Moves Toward Plastic Straw Ban
iStock/fotostorm

New York City may become the next major city to ban plastic straws.

City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr. introduced legislation earlier this week that would ban restaurants and bars from serving plastic straws and drink stirrers. Paper, corn, or other biodegradable materials will be permissible as will reusable aluminum, the bill states.

“Right now, if we continue to use plastic at the rate we’ve been using, by 2050 we’ll have more plastic in the sea than fish living in it,” Councilman Espinal said in a statement.

“There’s a big movement across the country and it’s time for New York City to lead on the issue, so hopefully everyone can sign on,” Espinal said.

Americans use an astounding amount of plastic straws. Recent estimates put it at more than 500 million per day — about 1.6 straws per person per day.

Like other types of plastic, straws often end up in the world’s oceans where marine life can mistake them for food.

Similar efforts have been gaining momentum across the country and the globe. Seattle and Malibu have bans going into effect and the UK is moving toward a full ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton swabs.

Globally, plastic pollution is a major problem for the world’s oceans — about 8 million metric tones of it are washing into the ocean’s every year, “enough to place the equivalent of five grocery bags full of plastic trash on every foot (30 cm) of every nation’s coastline around the globe,” reports Reuters.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he supports the plastic straw ban, which will be voted on later this summer.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.