This year, July 1 is so much more than the first day of the month, or the first day of plastic free July. It marks the start of plastic straw bans in places like Taipei, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Selangor and Washington, D.C.*
Each of these places are joining a long list of cities including Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Mumbai, that have already banned plastic straws. South Africa is taking things one step further and is working to enact a country wide import ban on single-use plastic straws. The entire UK is also committed to banning plastic straws by 2020.
On a different plastic-free note, we’d like to shine the spotlight on New Zealand. Monday, the country officially banned single-use shopping bags. Companies that break the new law will face hefty penalties.
While plastic straw bans and plastic bag bans seem trivial to some people, it’s important to remember the bans are about more than just these items. The bans are ultimately a way of bringing attention to the bigger problem: single-use plastics as a whole. We live in a consumer culture where convenience is king. Consumers have the power to help make change by saying, enough is enough. When we start to factor sustainability into our purchasing decisions, brands will start to factor sustainability into their supply chains. But consumers can’t do it on their own. Bans on single-use plastics are a step toward more comprehensive policies that will ultimately help introduce sustainable alternatives.
So what can you do to make a difference in your community? Contact your local government and find out what they’re doing to reduce plastic waste in your community. Reach out to your favorite brands and let them know why you had to stop purchasing their product due to the plastic packaging. Demand change.
Remember, reuse allows for the elimination of single-use items from our lives and is the best way to take care of Mama Earth. So, if you’re going for a coffee or a drink with a friend, make sure you have your FinalStraw and a reusable cup. If you’re going shopping, skip the plastic bag and use a reusable one instead. And last, but certainly not least, please refuse single-use plastic cutlery. All of these items that you use for just a few minutes last for hundreds of years in landfills.
* The straw ban in Washington, D.C. went into effect in October 2018, but as of July 1, 2019, businesses can be fined between $100-$800 for failing to comply with the ban on plastic straws.