Seattle Leads In Sustainability By Banning Plastic Utensils And Straws

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With a ban on plastic straws and utensils set to go into effect next year, Seattle restaurants must get ready for their role in a more sustainable future.

Black plastic plate full of chicken, rice, pork, beans, and plantains with a plastic fork.

In 2010, Seattle passed a law banning plastic straws and utensils from the food service industry, however given the impact this would have on local businesses the city decided to hold off on implementing the plan. Now, with less than a year before exemption expires, Seattle restaurants are making an effort to cut back on their reliance on plastic.

According to Uproxx, the sustainable shift will not be as difficult as one might believe, as plastic straws and utensils are a relatively new phenomenon. Plastic straws weren't widely used or available in America until the 1960s and, prior to that turning point, people ate with the help of materials like paper. Now there are a multitude of other compostable materials available that work even better, such as cornstarch and bamboo, and even edible ones. Moving forward, establishments that serve food in Seattle will just need to go back a few decades.

“As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils,” Sego Jackson, strategic advisor for Waste Prevention and Product Stewardship for Seattle Public Utilities, told Q13 FOX. “What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. But they also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether.”

Places like the Seattle Aquarium are methodically ditching straws, a strong portion of human waste, reported EcoWatch. "In the U.S. alone, people discard 500 million straws every day, or more than 180 billion a year," wrote Dr. David Suzuki in another EcoWatch article. "That's about 1.4 million kilograms of plastic sent to landfills and into the oceans every day!"

When it comes to reducing waste and ultimately decreasing the negative human impact on the environment, Seattle is a leader in the sustainability effort. The rest of the nation would be smart to follow in their footsteps. 

Banner and thumbnail credit: Wikimedia Commons user Scott Bauer

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