San Diego could be next big city to ban plastic straws

Environmental groups want new law passed
Posted at 7:58 AM, Jul 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-31 10:58:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV): In the wake of Starbucks and Disney doing away with plastic straws, environmental groups in San Diego want the city to do the same.

The Surfrider Foundation is sponsoring a proposal that the San Diego City Council will vote on in September to require restaurants to only offer straws to customers who request them, instead of giving them out with every drink.

They're also pushing for a ban on Styrofoam take-out containers.

Natalie Roberts-Decarli, the Interim Executive Director of I Love a Clean San Diego, says her group wants people to be more conscious of the waste they create in their daily lives.

"Straws kind of fly around easily, they blow away easily, and they're not able to be recycled," she says. "So they end up in our landfills or just litter."

At one ocean clean up event last year, I Love a Clean San Diego found 6,000 straws on the coast in just a few hours. Roberts-Decarli says plastic straws are always in the top ten items of trash they find.

"There's no perfect answer right now. Everyone is still trying to work together to come up with the best solution," she says.

Many local restaurants have already taken that step. According to Surfrider, more than 100 restaurants in San Diego County are certified as "Ocean Friendly," meaning they follow a list of criteria for recycling and avoiding plastic. The full list is on their website.

Marketing analysts say changes from big companies like Starbucks and Disney mean this will likely spread and expand.

"It raises the consciousness of consumers and it sets rising expectations in consumers," says Heather Honea, the Chair of San Diego State University's Marketing Department in the Fowler School of Business.

"By people banning it and having discussions about whether it's bad or good or what does it mean, how does it affect them, it creates top of mind salience that changes people's perspectives on things because they become aware of the topic. And for a moment, they think about it, ponder it and reconcile how they think about it," she says.

Environmental groups say making the change would be easy for consumers, who could carry reusable straws in their purses or car glove compartments. They compare it to the reusable grocery bag change that happened in San Diego over the last few years.

However, not everyone supports the idea. Some warn that the ban could be discriminatory against people with disabilities, many of whom require straws. Others say it would make it harder for senior citizens or parents of young children.