The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
California Becomes First State to Regulate Plastic Straws
The law, which will enter into force Jan. 1, prohibits restaurants from providing straws unless a customer requests one. It covers only sit-down eateries, not fast food restaurants, delis or coffee shops.
"It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it," Brown said as he signed the bill. "And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products."
The law comes as various cities and companies, including California cities like San Francisco, Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, Carmel, Davis and San Luis Obispo have also passed restrictions on the use of plastic straws, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
In his signing statement, Brown focused on the impact that all single use plastics have on the oceans. He wrote that plastics are estimated to kill millions of marine animals, referencing the story of a whale that washed up dead in Thailand with 80 plastic bags in its stomach, and that microplastics have also been found in tap water.
"Plastics, in all forms—straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.—are choking our planet," he wrote.
Plastic straws and stirrers are the sixth most prevalent form of trash found on California beaches, according to the California Coastal Commission, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
However, anti-plastic straw measures have been criticized by disability rights activists, who say they deny people with disabilities a life-saving accessibility tool without addressing the true cause behind the single-use plastic crisis.
"Let me be blunt: Screeching at us about straws is not going to fix the problem of plastic. For that, we need to go higher up the supply chain, rethinking when and how we produce plastics across the board instead of shaming disabled people who are piping up about our needs," Northern California journalist s.e. smith wrote for Vox.
Some disability advocates say a solution like California's, which still allows restaurants to serve plastic straws upon request, would resolve the tension between sustainability and accessibility, but others say such regulations still put an added barrier between customers with disabilities and their chance to enjoy a beverage out as easily as anyone else."Some people who need straws may have an invisible disability or illness, and they should be able to receive a straw without being judged or asked if they 'really' need it," the Mighty disability editor Karin Willison told the Los Angeles Times, as reported by The Hill.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Return of a Relative: Tribal Communities in the Northern Great Plains Rally Around Bison Restoration
By Clay Bolt
On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.