According to the Strawless Ocean program, it’s estimated that over 500 million straws are used in America every day, and most of those end up in the oceans, “polluting the water and killing marine life.” The anti-straw movement has considerable traction on west coast, in states like California and cities like Seattle, where plastic straw bans have already gone into effect. But there’s also some momentum toward that movement on the opposite side of the country, as Rhode Island has introduced legislation that would outright prohibit restaurants from “providing plastic straws unless customers specifically request them,” according to the Providence Journal. So, even offering a straw to a customer before they ask for one could result in a $25 fine (after two warning transgressions), with a yearlong cap of $300.
The bill is based on a similar one in California, and comes from a task force focused on reducing plastics pollution in Rhode Island, which may also include a statewide ban on plastic bags, says the Journal. Senate Majority Leader Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey, who introduced the legislation, stated, “You have to consider how much plastic is being put into the environment on a daily basis… If we keep one straw out of the ocean, it could save marine life.”
The effect of plastics on the environment is so dire that the Collins dictionary selected “single-use” as its word of the year for 2018, representing a type of plastic product that is hopefully in the process of being phased out. A survey by Hunter Public Relations found that stories of large companies and cities banning plastic straws were the biggest food news of last year, the first time in that survey’s history that an environmental story took the top spot.