CATHEDRAL CITY – Single-use plastic straws are feeling the heat in this progressive community where their days are likely numbered.

The City Council on Wednesday will consider first reading of an ordinance that would prohibit Cathedral City restaurants from distributing plastic straws. First reading sets the table for second reading and adoption. At that point, Cathedral City would be the first in the Coachella Valley to implement a ban.

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis asked for the item to ban plastic straws on the Study Session earlier this month and quickly earned the support of his colleagues.

California lawmakers have also turned up the heat on plastic straws.

California is poised to become the first state to restrict the distribution of plastic straws at restaurants under a bill lawmakers approved Thursday.  The legislation, which would prohibit full-service, dine-in restaurants from offering plastic straws to customers unless they are requested, passed on a 45-20 vote by the Assembly and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Though Cathedral City will be the first city in the Coachella Valley to ban single-use plastic straws, Cathedral City will join a growing list of progressive California communities that are calling a halt to their use. Some California cities that have already banned plastic straws and other items include San Luis Obispo, Malibu, Santa Cruz, and Ojai. The city of Santa Barbara will be considering this in September.

The city of Seattle banned plastic straws and utensils. Starbucks will stop offering plastic straws by 2020. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have eliminated them from its flights. SeaWorld will remove straws and bags from its parks, and Marriott Hotels and Royal Caribbean will eliminate them from hotels and cruise ships. Even quarterback Tom Brady announced on his Instagram page that “I’m out on single-use plastic straws.”

In 2015, environmentalists began to turn on the favorite drinking device children use to blow bubbles in their drink. The plastic straw fell out of favor after a disturbing video made by a Texas A&M scientist of a marine biologist extracting a crusty plastic straw from the nostril of a live sea turtle. More than 30 million YouTube views later, the video has helped drive a global movement to limit or ban straws through campaigns like the Last Plastic Straw, Strawfree.org, Strawwars.org, Be Straw Free, and television actor Adrian Grenier’s campaign For a Strawless Ocean.

Americans use millions of straws every day, for about 20 minutes each on average, and then toss them out, according to a report in Newsday. Those straws break down gradually into tiny microparticles and become an unappetizing contaminant in every food chain.

This is especially true on beaches and in the oceans, where plastic waste is accumulating so quickly that by 2050 it may, according to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, exceed the weight of all the fish in the seas. Studies show that up to 70 percent of seabirds have ingested plastics and the likelihood of a turtle ingesting plastic has increased significantly over the past couple of decades.

 

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