DALLAS—Banning those thin hollow plastic tubes that help us down our drinks has become a popular move among cities and businesses this summer. But will Dallas consider banning plastic straws?
In July, the City of Seattle became the first major city in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic straws.
Other cities like San Francisco and Malibu have made such moves, and big businesses like Disney, Starbucks, and American Airlines have vowed to get rid of straws.
Even Kim Kardashian West, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, urged her 115 million followers via Instagram to cut back on plastic use adding that she was no longer using plastic straws at home.
So, what gives? Why is everyone against plastic straws?
The easiest answer is marine pollution. According to the Ocean Conservancy, about 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans.
And that much plastic isn’t too friendly to ocean life.
One video is easily credited the most for why businesses and cities are banning straws. It was taken by a current Texas A&M student in 2015, according to TIME.
In the video, a team of marine biologists can be seen removing a plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle.
It’s not easy to watch, but it really shows the harm those thin hollow plastic tubes can cause.
If Mary O’Brien, who owns the Dream Café in Dallas, ruled the world—there would be no straws.
“Straws are a major contributor to this floating island of garbage that’s in the middle of the ocean,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien, who has owned her restaurant since 1989, stopped offering plastic straws to her customers about a year ago.
“Every time I would pick one up, I would just think well there’s another one going into a landfill,” O’Brien said.
As an alternative, she now offers compostable straws to customers that are made from corn. In theory, they’re supposed to become biodegradable in about 10 days.
They’re not cheap, but O’Brien said that she feels it’s the least she can do for the environment.
“Educating people how much damage this one little item can do becomes mind opening to them,”
O’Brien said. “It’s habitual, you’re not even thinking about it being in your drink and then you realize that you don’t even need it.”
Head over to V-Eats in Trinity Groves and you’ll find no straws at all. Owner Troy Gardner started off with paper straws but felt like it was just easier to stop offering them.
“We wanted to create an environmentally friendly restaurant,” Gardner said. “The idea is to educate as many people as we can.”
You’d think backlash would follow from customers, but O’Brien and Gardner say it’s been very positive.
“It starts a discourse among the table, and people are like oh yes I’ve heard of that,” Gardner said.
“People would stop me you know and just say I’m glad you’re doing this,” O’Brien said.
Three years ago, Dallas kind of tried a plastic bag ban by charging customers to use them. It was eventually repealed.
So, will the city take its lead from trend setting cities like San Francisco and Seattle? If anything, a discussion is bound to happen if this movement stays strong.