In a perfect world, when we go to a cafe and order an iced latte to go, it will be served to us in an edible cup, like something from Willy Wonka. Until then, we’ll just have to be happy that the straw tucked in it won’t be made of plastic — after July 2018, that is.
It appears this ordinance banning plastic cutlery and straws has been around since 2010, but hadn’t taken effect due to an exemption that will not be renewed. Yes, the days of plastic cutlery and straws — just like plastic grocery bags — will soon come to an end.
It is estimated that 500 million straws are discarded every day in the United States, going to landfills or making their way to waterways and oceans, and maybe getting lodged in some marine life’s esophagus along the way.
We’re hopeful Seattle businesses won’t make a big stink about this dormant law, as they’ve had seven years now to work it out. Accounting for human nature, we’re sure a lot of businesses will procrastinate on this — and anything else that costs money.
Maybe seven years ago it was hard to source compostable cutlery and straws, but environmentalism and capitalism are more in lockstep these days, and the variety of eco-friendly products out now are many, and the price doesn’t seem that much higher than the standard, BPA-filled plastics we use today.
Seattleites should already be familiar with some of these items, since there are a number of environmentally conscious businesses out there that are already doing this. How cool are paper straws?
We even found a good deal on green straws made from corn plastic, so Starbucks can rejoice, or whatever it is that they do over there when not developing a cheap, but unsatisfying breakfast sandwich.
It’s worth mentioning that just because something says it’s compostable, that doesn’t mean you can throw it in your household compost bin and expect to be fertilizing your yard with old corn plastic. Most of these items on the market must go to a composting facility to be broken down correctly. We mention this not so much to discourage such products, but to make sure people don’t end up with forks and spoons mixed up with next season’s crop of cabbage.
We’re not big fans of chewing our drinks, but we know a lot of people — not just those yutes in the International District — like a good bubble tea. If anyone should be expected to complain about ditching plastic straws, it’s the bubble tea cafés, with their extra-wide straws that are required to suck up those tapioca balls.
Well, in this crazy and sometimes surprising world, there are compostable bubble tea straws out there too, and the price point doesn’t seem too crazy when considering the environmental benefits.
But it’s not all corn plastic and cool paper straws that make you feel like you’re drinking a root beer float in the ‘20s. There is also the option for cafés and restaurants to offer people staying parked in their establishment with a good, old-fashioned reusable fork or straw, much like you would find in your own kitchen.
There are a lot of progressive ideas the city council has floated by over the years, but we think ditching harmful plastics should be far less contentious than an income tax for the wealthy. For anyone who hates the idea of both, we’ve got a straw you can borrow. You know? So you can suck it up.