Turning tides

It's March. It is officially the third month of 2018. This is not a drill. Cue existential dread over the increasing speed that time seems to be moving.

In better news, there have been some pretty strong waves in the fight against that bane of all modern environmentalists--plastic straws. We talked about these foul little nuisances in our second post all the way back in 2017, and the conversation has really gotten some legs under it, not only here in California, but truly worldwide. Today we wanted to bring everyone up to speed on some of the legislation that's been passed, and some that's slated to in the future, regarding the banning or reduction of these polyethylene devil tubes.

Starting close to home, the city of Malibu banned their restaurants and other food sellers from both giving and selling single-use plastic straws, utensils, and drink stirrers. The ban passed last month, but the affected businesses have until the beginning of June to comply with it, replacing their plasticware with items made from more sustainable and biodegradable materials like bamboo, wood, and paper. People needing utensils and such while out on the town are being encouraged to look into bringing their own equipment to use, like our favorite stainless steel straws. Seriously try it with a cold beverage, it'll change your life.

California Assembly Bill 1884, as per its amendment stage in early February, would place a statewide restriction on sit-down restaurants, (but not bars or fast food places), giving out straws without being requested to do so. I think the idea of this one is a no brainer. It's the same practice of restaurants only giving water by request during times of drought, although again I think it's pretty ridiculous to give water automatically at all, seeing as how a ton of it gets wasted. These practices aren't hard to implement, but since people are resistant to change and I'm sure some restaurant owners will think it'll damage their image or something we have to write a law. Where this breaks down is in the further details, as the bill states that penalties for not abiding by the law can result in up to $1,000 in fines or even jail time. I know what we're all thinking, those are kind of ridiculous punishments for handing out a straw. Yes, that one straw is not as inconsequential as we once thought, but it's not like it's being used to poke someone's eye out. No one should go to jail for an issue like this, and that's a pretty steep fine, but good news, because Ian Calderon, the proponent of the bill, said these punishments are going to be phased out by amendments and won't affect anyone under scrutiny of the law. No one has issues with trusting a politician, right?

Across the pond there are exciting rumblings as well. According to The Telegraph, Queen Liz herself has joined the fight against single-use plastics, banning straws and plastic bottles from the Royal estates. Her highness and David Attenborough, (of Planet Earth fame), recently worked together on a documentary regarding the ever-growing pollution problem, so it's pretty clear that this must have had an impact on her thinking. I mean, how could you not be convinced of anything that lovely man says? I haven't watched all of Planet Earth II yet, but what I have has obviously been fantastic. I had fallen asleep and woke up during the scene about ocean plastic and thought I was stuck in a light green Tim Burton tinted nightmare. I can't recommend it enough.

Up in the frozen north, the Scottish Parliament has already phased out plastic straws in their facilities and there is a plan in place to ban them nationwide by 2019. Their Environment Secretary was quoted as saying, "I would strongly encourage the big manufacturers of straws that the writing is on the wall and they need to be thinking about alternatives now."

I suppose that's the takeaway message here: enough of us have seen the horrendous impact that plastics have had on our environment and we're ready to fight for change. It may seem like a weird hill to die on, but like we've talked about before, it's small steps in the right direction that we should focus on to make real progress. Today it's straws, tomorrow maybe it'll be styrofoam to-go containers. Three years from now? Solar panels on Mars, I'm calling it now. If anyone has a direct line to Mr. Musk, let me know.

All of these stirrings, (pun intended), around getting rid of straws has been a point of encouragement here around the shop, and I hope it gives you all a small glimmer of hope as well. In the weird tornado of awful news that swirls around us on a daily basis, it's nice to get a break with something that seems truly altruistic, something that we can solidly say is a net benefit to us all.

Until next time.