West Hollywood is launching its “Straws Upon Request” campaign on Wednesday with an event at Kitchen 24 restaurant.
The campaign is an effort to raise awareness about the negative environmental impacts of plastic straws and to encourage local restaurants, bars, nightclubs and their customers to go straw-free or consider using alternatives, such as straws made of paper, steel, silicone, glass or bamboo.
In August, the state legislature passed a law prohibiting full-service, dine-in restaurants from offering plastic straws to customers unless they are requested. The West Hollywood City Council, in February 2018, approved a resolution in support of this statewide legislation. The state law goes into effect on Jan. 1.
One California city has taken an even tougher approach, in June, the city of Santa Barbara passed a bill actually banning the distribution or sale of plastic straws at bars, restaurants and other establishments, with plastic stirrers and cutlery only available upon request. A restaurant worker who commits a second violation of that law can be fined from $100 up to $1,000 and sentenced to six months in jail. Exemptions allowing plastic straws can be used for those who are disabled and cannot use other types of straws.
The Straws Upon Request campaign kickoff will occur at 5 p.m. at Kitchen 24, 8575 Santa Moica Blvd. West Hollywood Mayor John Duran and members of the West Hollywood City Council will be attend the event, which is free and open to the public. The city will distribute information during the upcoming weeks about the campaign, which encourages establishments in West Hollywood to embrace alternatives to plastic straws and to take part in citywide sustainability programs.
“Nearly every piece of plastic still exists on earth, regardless of whether it’s been recycled, broken down into microscopic bits, or discarded in the ocean,” said Mayor Duran. “While one might assume that plastic straws are one of the smallest contributors to overall plastic pollution, they are, in fact, one of the most commonly found items during beach cleanups. West Hollywood is leading the way to go straw-free and is supporting efforts to make the shift across the state.”
In the United States, consumers use an estimated 20 billion plastic straws each year. In California, many plastic straws end up directly in the Pacific Ocean. The California Coastal Commission has recorded approximately 835,000 straws picked up between 1988 and 2014 during organized coastal clean ups. This data doesn’t include straws picked up inland or around California’s lakes and waterways.