Slurrrp! Chances are you’ve never thought about all the plastic straws you use. But Americans throw away 500 million straws a day, according to a conservation group called Eco-Cycle. Seattle, Washington, is taking a stand against all that plastic waste.
Starting July 1 next year, restaurants and other businesses in the city that serve food and drinks will no longer be allowed to give customers plastic drinking straws. Instead, the straws will have to be made from paper or other compostable materials, such as corn starch. Restaurants that use plastic utensils will also have to switch to forks and knives that can be composted.
Officials in Seattle are concerned about the amount of plastic waste in their city. Plastic takes much longer to break down than paper and other more environmentally friendly materials do. All it takes is a slight breeze to blow plastic straws from trash cans onto beaches and into waterways.
Fish and birds sometimes mistake bits of plastic for food and try to eat them.
Seattle isn’t the only city that’s getting rid of plastic straws and utensils. Last month, Carmel City, California, passed its own ban. Other cities are considering similar laws.
But some restaurant owners say these bans will be bad for business. Compostable straws, for example, can cost up to five times as much as plastic ones.
Still, officials in Seattle hope the law will make people rethink whether they need any straw—regardless of what it’s made of.