Take a walk down any beach, chances are you will see a lot of straws and remnants of plastic cutlery. Plastic pollution plagues water ways and coastal areas around the world, but for the small coastal town of Malibu, California -it was the last straw.
How the Straw Ban got Started
The idea for the ban began when Sheila Morovati and her family noticed that the bulk of the trash they found on the beaches of Malibu were straws and utensils. Feeling inspired to take a stand Morovati helped spearhead a campaign that took their concerns about plastic pollution to the City Council who unanimously voted to ban all plastic straws, stirrers and plastic utensils from being provided at local restaurants.
Malibu is one of the first towns to implement such radical policies against plastic pollution, being joined in the cause by Manhattan Beach, Santa Cruz and Seattle Washington which will begin the ban in July.
The Hidden Dangers
Plastic straws make up the top ten items found in beach clean ups. Straws are made of plastic which never completely biodegrades but instead breaks up into smaller and smaller bits called microplastics. These get ingested by fish and other animals that we eat and end up poisoning many animals in the food chain. These microplastics have even been found in the salt that we eat! Yuck.
If you’re sitting there thinking right now “Wow, that’s terrible, but I recycle my straws, so it isn’t so bad that I use them.” Think again. Straws are made with BPA, which not only has been shown to cause a host of health problems, but it also can’t be recycled.
That’s not the worst damage straws cause either. Straws have been found lodged in the throats and stomachs of many marine species, and recently an endangered sea turtle became the poster child for going straw free when it was found with a straw lodged in its nasal cavity.
A History of Activism
This isn’t the first time that concerned residents have driven change either. Malibu was also one of the first cities to instigate the ban on plastic bags, which later became a state-wide policy.
With the latest social media campaign #StopSucking and the gaining popularity of “STRAWS” a documentary aimed at reinforcing the effectiveness of grassroots advocacy, it is likely we will see an increase in civilian initiated legislation against plastic.
When it comes to activism, think globally but act locally. Start in your own home by reducing your use of single use plastic items and encouraging family and friends to do the same. You can prevent hundreds of pounds of waste from entering the landfills this way.
If you are a passionate eco warrior and want to drive change in your town, remember that his movement all started because a few concerned people spoke up to their City Council and demanded change. Become an activist in your town and start the discussion in your local government, restaurants and environmental groups to rally for legislation that promotes sustainable living.
Join movements that promote sustainable living and technology that makes going plastic free easier. It’s easier than you think. By taking a minute to sign your name below, you will be a voice in the collective demand for refill technology in retail stores nationwide.
By refilling household products like shampoo, detergent and soaps- American’s could keep thousands of pounds of plastic out of landfills, but retailers don’t think consumers really care about the environment.
The straw ban in Malibu is just one example of how individuals drove change, let’s make refill the next one. Sign the petition today and make your voice heard in the fight to make sustainable options available to everyone.