Berkeley Considers Plastic Straw Ban

A California city wants to ditch disposable straws. Berkeley officials are considering a ban on plastic drinking straws that would likely be passed early next year. Meant to protect the environment, the proposed ban would affect restaurants and coffee shops in the city. “We do need to change our habits. The habits we have are destroying our planet,” said Sophie Hahn, one of three city council members who wrote an information report about the proposed ordinance.

Ben Bartlett, another author of the report, said the ban would be a boon for fish and help limit children’s exposure to the chemicals found in plastic. Rather than providing plastic straws, Berkeley businesses could give out bamboo or paper straws, passing along the added cost of such items to the customer, city officials said. They could also encourage customers to carry their own reusable straws to restaurants.

The National Parks Service reports that Americans use half a billion straws each day. Straws, a recent documentary narrated by actor Tim Robbins, notes that plastic straws are the fifth-most found trash on beaches.

Berkeley isn’t the only California city toying with a disposable straw ban. The city of Davis recently passed an ordinance that requires restaurants to ask patrons if they would like a straw, instead of just automatically providing one.