MAR 10, 2019 6:48 AM PDT

Banning the ban: Florida's struggle with straws

Florida took a step back in the eyes of the environment earlier this week when the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee approved a bill Monday that puts a moratorium on the intended ban against plastic straws.

Surrounded by ocean, Florida is one of the states most impacted by marine litter. According to the philanthropy organization Global Citizen, 60-90% of marine litter is plastic, and even the deepest parts of the ocean have been infiltrated by microplastics. In an effort to decrease the pressure put on the environment, local governments in Florida had previously approved plastic straw bans, with restaurants agreeing only to offer straws upon customers’ requests. The state Department of Environmental Protection also campaigned a “Skip the Straw” message and in recent years Coral Gables, St. Petersburg, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale have passed regulations about plastic utensils.

But now that hard work is to be under scrutiny, with the proposed by Republican Senator Travis Hutson. Senator Hutson commented that previous bans were a “government overreach.” His response was to introduce a five-year stay on locally enacted bans, making it illegal for local goverments to ban plastic straws until 2024 once the results of a Department of Environmental Protection study have been determined. Violating the bill carries a hefty fine of $25,000 for restaurants.

Jennifer Rubiello, of St. Petersburg-based Environment Florida, voiced her concern over the threat that single-use plastics like straws pose to Florida’s wildlife and waterways. “As a state surrounded by water on three sides, we should be leading the nation in moving away from single-use plastics rather than tying the hands of local governments who want to protect wildlife and the health of their communities from pollution,” she said.

Every day humans use over 500 million straws. Many end up in the ocean. Photo: Pixabay

Holly Parker-Curry of the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental not-for-profit organization that prioritizes clean oceans and beaches, echoed Rubiello’s concerns, commenting that more than enough evidence has been documented regarding the danger of plastic pollution: “That, to us, is abundantly clear and does not warrant a study. Candidly, anybody who participates in the beach clean-up can see that single-use straws are impacting beaches and the natural environment,” she said.

Sources: The Guardian, Miami Herald

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 09, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 09, 2019
Here we go again: record level carbon emissions in 2019
A report from researchers collaborating to produce the annual Global Carbon Budget has found that 2019 will break record levels of carbon emissions…...
DEC 10, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 10, 2019
Greenland's Ice Sheet is Experiencing "Worst-Case Scenario" Loss
Greenland’s Ice Sheet—which covers 75% of the land’s mass—is melting at a rate aligned with “worst-case scenario” sea l...
DEC 17, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2019
Watch Seals Band Together to Scare a Great White Shark Away
Great white sharks are rather renowned for being massive and merciless predators of the ocean, and among their favorite prey are fur seals, which are rich...
JAN 11, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 11, 2020
The Ganges rising: water levels in the delta
A study published recently in PNAS reports the future of water-level rise in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta. A collaboration of researchers from the C...
FEB 01, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 01, 2020
Cut the ozone, help the plants
Researchers from the University of Exeter report in Nature Climate Change their findings of a new "natural climate solution”: reducing emissions...
FEB 06, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 06, 2020
Did climate push early humans out of Africa?
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details the most recent revelations about our planet’s complex h...
Loading Comments...