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Plastic Straws, Stirrers, Utensils Banned From Malibu Restaurants

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Malibu City Council voted to ban single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery. City of Malibu / Twitter

Malibu, the trendy Californian city in Los Angeles County known for its stunning ocean views and sandy beaches, is taking a stand against single-use plastics.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the City Council voted Monday to ban nearly 70 restaurants and food vendors from selling or distributing plastic straws, stirrers and utensils to customers. The ban will take effect June 1.


Establishments will have to swap the plastic items for paper, wood or bamboo versions. Customers are also encouraged to bring their own reusable straws and cutlery.

"This is a community based on its ocean and beaches and we want to protect those," Craig George, the city's environmental sustainability director, told the Los Angeles Times.

"Individual cities have to decide how they're going to protect the earth," he said. "We've got to start somewhere. If we can start locally, that's the best place to start."

As a Council report on the plastic straw and cutlery ban stated:

In California, 'Coastal Cleanup Day' has tracked the amount of trash collected since 1992, and plastic straws and stirrers are the sixth most common item collected. Plastic cutlery is the fifth most common item. collected. For this reason, staff recommends banning plastic stirrers and plastic cutlery in the same section as the ban on plastic straws.

Plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery never biodegrade, the plastic is broken down into smaller pieces that become difficult to manage in the environment. Nearly all plastic, regardless of whether it has been recycled, still exists.

To raise awareness of the change, the city will provide local food services with a box of paper straws bearing the slogan, "Keep it Clean, Malibu."

"This is the right thing to do," Mayor Rick Mullen told the Times. Even if people have to "pay a little more for something to do the right thing, it's the right thing to do."

Malibu was one of the first cities in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags in 2008. It has also banned polystyrene foam, aka Styrofoam, since 2005.

The city's anti-plastic movement will not be stopping there—it plans to take on plastic lids next.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.