California has fired another volley in the plastic-straw wars, enacting a law that bars sit-down restaurants from offering straws to diners unless they specifically request them. The move follows total bans on plastic straws in cities including San Francisco; Malibu, California; Seattle; and Miami Beach, Florida.
Yet cutting down on the use of straws, while a highly visible symbol of the push to reduce the use of plastic, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cleaning up our oceans and other waterways, environmental advocates say.
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“It’s not just straws — it’s all the single-use plastics, it’s all the cigarettes that people drop on the beach,” Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow, recently told CBS MoneyWatch.
Straws are the seventh-most common trash item found on beaches, largely because of the huge amounts American use — about 500 million a day, according to the National Park Service. But in the context of the overall plastic problem, they’re tiny. Single-use straws make up less than 4 percent of the volume of plastic waste in landfills and waterways.
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“I think it’s a big deal that they’re taking the step, because it shows that this issue of plastic pollution is starting to get a lot of attention,” said Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer at Oceana. “Obviously, it’s going to take a lot more to address that problem.”
That problem appears to have gotten worse this year. With China drastically cutting how...
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