In one fell sip, Seattle on Sunday became the first major U.S. city to ban drinking straws, an environmentally friendly move that leaders hope will spark a nationwide conversation about small, everyday changes that people can make to protect the planet.
A decade ago, the city adopted an ordinance requiring that all one-time-use food items be compostable or recyclable, according to the Seattle Times. But straws and other cutlery were exempted from that law because there were not many good alternatives.
So the straws stayed, along with the environmental problems they cause.
Most plastic straws aren’t heavy enough to make it through industrial recycling sorters, according to the Strawless Ocean campaign, and can ruin an otherwise good load of recycling. Or they end up getting blown out of trash cans and car windows and ultimately wind up in the oceans, where they can hurt wildlife.
Strawless Ocean estimates that 71 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of turtles have some kind of plastic in their stomachs, which can cut their mortality rate in half.