A ban on plastic, straws and the lot.

It is important for us foodies to remember and respect the standards for consumerism when we often times abuse various resources. We often get blinded by the convenience of plastic, sipping our bubble tea and eating our acai bowls. We treasure these experiences and disregard the consequences. It is hard to imagine the impact such a small litter can cause to the environment but it is extremely detrimental. 

Greenpeace, an environmental organization, cites that 40 percent of the plastic in the ocean is from single-use plastics. 

Plastic Ocean

Kevin Krejci on Flickr

Seattle became one of the few cities that issued the ban of plastic utensils and straws to prevent further damage to the ecosystem. The ban was taken effect as of July 1st, and any violators will be fined up to 250 dollars. 

Now I can dive into the statistics of how much damage plastic causes, but we can examine real life for a deeper case study.  One thing Seattleites (a term here to describe someone from Seattle) love more than food is coffee and convenience. Hosting one of the most Starbucks per areas compared to any other cities and states, straws and utensils are integral parts of their corporation.         

coffee, milk, tea, beer
Sarah Yanofsky

This fact alone is an example of how huge the plastic is deeply integrated with the business of Seattle and its corporations. To outlaw plastic was a huge step for the city to take financially.  However, it was an essential step to take. 

Business owners, such as Starbucks, are already issuing alternatives such as paper and metal to replace plastic. Whole foods market in the Seattle area has essentially replaced all straws with paper alternatives that are easily recyclable and biodegradable.  

Bright colorful paper straws

wuestenigel on Flickr

But is paper the new kid in the block? I don't think so. 

Sure replacing a single-use disposable material for another single-use disposable that is more eco-friendly is very appealing, but the concept fails in practice. Try sipping anything from a rolled piece of paper. The liquid is quickly absorbed into the paper, ruining the flavor of the drink and the experience.  Now you left with a wet mess, literally, and nothing to sip your coffee from. 

Also, the cost is an issue. Paper straws cost about 10 ten times the cost of plastic, says Adam Merran, CEO of PacknWood, a food service company. In bulks, this is a huge downside to the business owners that are dependant on the sales of drinks.    

So, what is a good solution? Well, why not ditch the straws all together and sip from the cup? Or carry your personal metal straws like your own water bottle? There are many questions that ban proposes but the solution is very limited.