Santa Barbara straw ban elicits mixed reactions
Views 19 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 24 - 2018 | By: Sophia Bennet
A Santa Barbara ordinance has made it illegal to pass out plastic straws in restaurants. Offenders could even face possible jail time, taking effect on January 1, 2019. In Chapter 1.28 of Santa Barbara’s municipal code, restaurants caught giving out straws will receive a warning, then a fine up to $1,000 dollars, and eventually jail time for up to six months. According to the National Review, Santa Barbara has the harshest penalty in the entire country for handing out plastic straws with beverages. This law may also be extended to plastic stirrers and utensils in the near future.
There are ways restaurants can be exempt from this ban. They can distribute straws made from materials like paper, sugar, and bamboo. A local favorite coffee and study place in Santa Barbara is the French Press. The small coffee shop has a great atmosphere... as welll as paper straws.
In a recent interview with Teal Anderson, the barista at French Press on State Street, she had much to say about the Santa Barbara straw ban. Anderson said she and the entire French Press staff were “pretty hyped about the straw ban.” They are opposed to all things plastic in the hope of protecting the environment. They are so supportive of the ban that they will soon be changing their plastic cups to biodegradable ones.
On the other hand, some of their customers have not been so supportive of this change. They have complained and became upset over the new paper straws. They even “handed back their iced coffee because they were so upset over the paper straws.” Teal did admit that paper straws may not be the best for consumer satisfaction, because, unlike plastic straws, they tend to become flimsy and partially dissolve. However, she thinks that the pros of paper straws greatly outway the cons.
This law is the beginning of a big change. As stated by the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council, “straw policies are part of an overarching effort to save resources and protect [the] marine environment.” Straws are a bigger threat to the environment than most people are aware of. Plastic straws that are only used once and thrown away, do not just disappear. It takes up to 200 years for one plastic straw to decompose. Most places cannot recycle plastic straws either. The one straw that a person uses eventually adds up, causing extreme harm to marine animals and sea birds. Each year, about 100,000 marine animals and 1 million seabirds die from consuming plastic. Plastic straws have created a huge environmental problem. According the the Freedonia Group, a market research firm, Americans used 390 million straws each day last year. That is enough to circle the earth 2.5 times.
On September 20, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved the straw ban. According to Assembly Bill No. 1884, Chapter 5.2, all sit-down restaurants in California will no longer be allowed to give out plastic straws. The first and second time this law is broken, a violation notice will be given. Further violation will result in a $25 fine for each day that the law has been violated. However, the fine cannot exceed an annual amount of $300. Authority figures who enforce the California Retail Food Code will also be making sure this law is upheld.