Seattle bans plastic straws

Beginning in July, customers in Seattle will have to choose between a biodegradable paper straw or go without. The ban comes on the heels of the successful “Strawless in Seattle” campaign.

The city of Seattle already has a ban on plastic utensils and grocery bags. Thanks to the successful “Strawless in Seattle” campaign by the Lonely Whale Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Adrian Grenier, the Emerald City has now decided to also ban single-use plastic straws.

The campaign, which was launched in September, worked with over two hundred local restaurants and their customers to go without plastic straws for one month. According to the UN’s environment agency UNEP, some 2.3 million straws were prevented from reaching the ocean in September alone.

“Strawless in Seattle” was so successful that the campaign is going global to help 10 more cities bid farewell to plastic straws. Chicago, Berlin and Toronto are some of the major cities that are candidates for the 2018 “Strawless Ocean Tour”.

Marine litter has reached unprecedented levels around the world – and straws are one of the main culprits. In the U.S. alone, some 500 million straws are used every day, many of which end up in the ocean where they cause harm to sea life or break down into tiny microplastics that pollute our environment and ultimately land on our plates.

But as the “Strawless Ocean Tour” shows, plastic straws are also one of the easiest forms of marine litter to tackle. By focusing on tiny every-day items that we can easily spare, it and similar campaigns “encourage us to rethink our whole relationship with single-use plastics”, writes UNEP.

Image credit: Dean Hochman via Flickr

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