The city of New York would be the largest city in the country to join the environmental movement that promotes the prohibition of the use of plastic straws.
This Wednesday, Councilman Rafael Espinal, along with local, national and international environmental advocates, presented the GIVE A SIP campaign, which seeks to prohibit the use of disposable plastic straws in restaurants and beverage establishments among New York consumers, unless these are made of biodegradable material.
“It’s no secret that plastic is a big problem for the environment. It is estimated that there are 13 million metric tons of plastic clogging our oceans and that 100,000 marine creatures die entangled in plastic debris annually. But, there is something we can do about this trend and it could be as simple as changing the way you drink your iced coffee in the morning or your cocktail at night,” said Councilman Espinal, during the announcement that took place at the Pier A, in Battery Park.
The Espinal initiative and the advocates, including Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Sierra Club and Oceanic Global, is complemented by a bill that states that no food or beverage service establishment in the city will offer to consumers any agitator for disposable plastic beverages or straws or any non-biodegradable material.
“Every day millions of plastic straws and removers are used and discarded, while so many paper sorbet options are available. We can make plastic a thing of the past. That is why I am proud to present legislation that would practically eliminate plastic strawsfrom the bars, restaurants and bars of New York City, “added Espinal.
Importance for the environment
“Whether it’s in Coney Island or Fiji, plastic straws are a scourge in the world’s oceans. Today is the day we say enough and we show that we give encouragement to whales, albatrosses and sea turtles, ” said John Calvelli of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The ban on plastic straws is already in effect in cities like Seattle, Malibu and Miami Beach and the idea has gained worldwide popularity. Vancouver voted to veto the plastic straws, while Scotland and Taiwan are moving to ban them. In Latin America, Ecuador has a very advanced legislation in this regard.
“We are delighted to support Councilor Espinal for pushing the legislation. We hope that by taking this initial action, New York City will continue to move towards a greener future and inspire other cities to follow suit, “said Lea d’Auriol of the Oceanic Global Foundation.
The Sierra Club on its behalf highlighted as very important the initiative to reduce plastic pollution, which includes millions of plastic straws that can not be recycled, are not biodegradable and for which there are alternatives available.
Meanwhile, Anthony Malone , director of operations at Pier A, was proud that the entire restaurant and bar service industry supports the campaign.
“It is encouraging to know that small operational changes in business can create deep and lasting effects for our oceans, and we see this as the first step in an effort to eventually eliminate all disposable plastics in our industry,” Malone said.
Last year, a bill introduced in the Council to impose a five-cent surcharge on plastic bags in New York did not prosper. In April of this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a ban on plastic bags at the state level, an initiative that some environmentalists believe should be perfected.
Environmental impact of plastic waste
It is estimated that every year 100,000 sea creatures die entangled by plastic debris. While plastic straws are the most common garbage that can be found on beaches and in the oceans, they are also considered among the plastics that are easiest to replace. Alternatives to plastic straws made of paper, bamboo, metal or glass are readily available, and consumers can always omit straws altogether.
According to organizations that defend the environment, 500 million disposable plastic straws are used every day by Americans and a large part of this waste goes to the oceans.
Tina Galo is a reporter for Clear Publicist. After graduating from college, Tim got an internship at NPR and worked as a reporter and sound engineer. Tim has also worked as a reporter for VICE. Tim covers entertainment and community events for Clear Publicist.