Plastic straws. It may seem like a trivial matter, but they have become such a commonplace item in society that in the U.S., 500 million straws are used and disposed of daily.
Plastic has become so abundant that millions of tons flow into the Earth’s waterways every year, harming wildlife and natural resources. Because plastic is made from synthetic polymers, it can take thousands of years to break down into smaller particles but never truly decomposes.
Given Northampton’s progressiveness and past legislation regarding a plastic bag ban, a plastic straw ban would be terrific for the city.
Northampton would join hands with numerous other cities to protect the environment. In summer of 2018, Seattle became the first major American city to initiate a ban on single-use plastic utensils in restaurants. In January 2019, California followed suit and a law was signed banning restaurants from giving out plastic straws.
And the movement is growing. Companies such as Starbucks and American Airlines have vowed to discontinue providing plastic straws by 2020. Other big cities in the U.S, such New York, Oakland, and Miami Beach have introduced their own version of a ban on plastic cutlery.
Cities outside the U.S are even drafting their own versions of bans. This is not to say that getting rid of plastic straws will solve our problem of waste production, as they are still a tiny fraction of the plastic used. This is ultimately a lifestyle choice.
By providing sustainable alternatives, such as paper or bamboo straws, we can still be inclusive of people with disabilities who need to eat or drink out of a straw. Yet this is also a major step to becoming more green as a society.
By making changes bit by bit, we can gradually decrease our dependence on plastic. Ultimately, the movement regarding straws should not be an end goal, but rather a beginning.
Theo E. Thompson