Plastic straw ban distracts from other environmental issues
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
By Fall 2019, Vancouver will be the first major Canadian city to ban single-use plastics in the hopes of eliminating plastic waste disposal by 2040. While this is a first step in the right direction, I don’t think completely cutting out straws is enough to fix the solid waste dilemma. Furthermore, with everyone being fixated on plastic straws, it takes the focus off bigger problems.
The solid waste problem is so big, eliminating plastic straws is not nearly enough to solve it. As well-intentioned as the campaign may be, a worldwide. If you compare that to the 8 million metric tons of plastic waste that goes into the ocean in a year, straws only make up a small percentage, about 2000 tonnes. Drinking with a straw doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
So, what makes up most of this plastic waste? A scientific report by nature.com surveys that about 46 percent of it is “Lost or discarded fishing nets, known as ghost nets,” while other fishing gear makes up almost the rest.
If we really wanted to eliminate waste and pollution, I think the solution would be to investigate the corporations that throw away tons of food every day, implement repercussions for those who abandon fishing gear and harsher penalties for dumping things at sea, set up facilities to recycle or dispose of fishing nets, recycle plastics into useful things—almost anything except banning straws. But since that video of the turtle with a straw stuck in his nose went viral, straws are getting all the blame.
Some cities treat it as if you are putting straws up turtle’s nose yourself. The city of Santa Barbara has gone as far as to fine servers $1,000 or sentence them with up to six months jail time after a second offence of giving them out, which is nothing short of ridiculous. Overcrowding in jails and prisons is already a huge problem, filling it with people for drinking with a plastic tube will only make it worse. Additionally, some disabled people who cannot drink without straws will be negatively impacted by this ban.
This ban is one solution to the plastic waste problem, but it’s not a great solution. Dictating what people use to drink liquids from is silly and sending people to jail for it is so absurd it’s almost hilarious…almost.