Not the Last Straw, but a step in the right direction.
On Thursday, May 9, the Ulster County Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee approved passage of the “Skip the Straw Law” (Proposed Local Law Number 20 of 2018: A Local Law Requiring Restaurants And Fast Food Service Establishments Provide Plastic Beverage Straws Solely Upon Request). The proposed law will be voted on by the full Legislature on Tuesday, May 21. As always, you are invited/encouraged to come make your voices heard.
This law does NOT ban plastic straws! You can still have your plastic straws – all you have to do is ask. It is no more than a gentle reminder to businesses and consumers that our oceans are facing a crisis we ignore at great risk.
According to the Daily Freeman, “reaction to the measure has been split among legislators and the public.” Some feel it is too autocratic and costly for businesses. Some feel it doesn’t go far enough and should include other single-use plastic items, like stirrers and cutlery. But, as Majority Leader Jon Heppner pointed out, amending the law would trigger more public hearings, more debate – and more delay. “It’s a step in the right direction.
At Ulster People’s May 20 general meeting, I will be introducing a resolution in support of the Ulster County Legislature’s “Skip the Straw Law.”
According to the international Earth Day Network, if we don’t change our ways, by 2025, the oceans will contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish. By 2050, we’re looking at an ocean that will be home to more plastic (by weight) than fish.
Corporations, municipalities, and even national governments are implementing bans on plastic straws. Starbucks has committed to eliminating them by 2020, thereby eliminating more than a billion straws a year. So have Hyatt, Hilton American and Alaska Airlines, and Royal Caribbean. The E.U. banned them in April. Seattle and Malibu have banned them in 2018. San Francisco and New York are considering proposals. And on May 13, Ron DiSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida, vetoed a bill that would have prevented local governments from passing plastic straw bans: the Sanibel, Ft. Myers Beach and Miami Beach plastic straw bans stand!
Another Fun Fact:
Common wisdom says paper straws are 6 to 10 times more expensive than plastic. But public pressure has created new markets for reusable straws made of materials like paper, silicone, stainless steel, glass and bamboo. And for a disposable alternative: I ordered a 200-Pack of 100% Plant-Based Compostable/Biodegradable Flexible Alternatives for $8.99 (about .7 percent more) from Amazon. Report to follow arrival.
Weigh in on Skip the Straw!
Please consider coming to the May 21 meeting of the Ulster County Legislature when a vote will be taken on the “Skip the Straw Law.” You needn’t speak – your presence alone reminds our legislators that we are paying attention and that we care. If you do decide to speak (please do!), remember to show up a few minutes early to sign up.
Ulster People’s next general meeting
(at which I will present my resolution to support the “Skip the Straw Law” to our voting members) will focus on Fair Elections and Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform at both the state and local levels. It is open to the public. Please come!