As of July 1, straws, plastic utensils and cocktail picks are prohibited in Seattle. This makes it the first major U.S. to successfully push such legislation.
The ban is extensive and applies to all food services businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias, for trucks, coffee shops and delis.
It’s not illegal to provide these items altogether, however. Businesses may switch over to utensils that are environmentally friend and/or compostable. Reusable steel and recyclable paper are acceptable materials, but the city prefers that the customer ask for them, rather than making them standard with purchase.
The ban on plastic comes as a concern about needless waste and threat to wildlife — particularly marine life. Americans use about 500 million straws per day and straws repeatedly turn up in the top 10 most common items collected during the International Coastal Cleanup, according to nonprofit organization Sailors for the Sea.
A 2015 video of an olive ridley sea turtle suffering with a plastic straw lodged in its nose sparked awareness and outrage toward the plastic tool that is largely just a convenience for most people.
If you’re looking to do your part right now, check out Amazon where they sell metal straws for just a few bucks. Get a pack of eight and hand them out whenever you and a friend grab those to-go guzzles at the gas station.