In a positive step towards better ocean health in the Pacific, California has become the first state in the U.S. to legally limit the use of plastic straws in restaurants.
The law, which was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, bans restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws unless asked for by the customer. Enforcement will begin in 2019.
"Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences," wrote Brown in a prepared statement. "Plastics, in all forms - straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. - are choking the planet."
Establishments found not in compliance will received two initial warnings. On their third offense they will be fined $300 per year. It's also worth pointing out that the law applies to full-service restaurants, while fast food establishments will be exempt.
Cities such as San Francisco and Seattle were among the first to implement such laws. The Surfrider Foundation has billed 2018 as the "year we get rid of plastic straws," making it a marquee issue for the environmental organization.
"Across the world the plastic straw is dropped in drinks without a thought in restaurants and bars quickly becoming a habit for businesses and customers alike," reported Surfrider's Trent Hodges. "Though it seems like a harmless piece of plastic, the International Coastal Cleanup report in 2017 found that straws were one of the top ten items collected globally on the coastlines of the planet."
One of the main areas of focus for WSL PURE is plastic pollution in the world's oceans. Through events like the Cornoa Bali Protected, and partnerships with organizations such as the 5 Gyres Institute and Parley For The Ocean, professional surfing is also joining in the fight.
Specifically, the partnership between WSL Pure and the Lonely Whale organziation has endeavored to make an impact when it comes to the pollution that plastic straws create. In the spring of 2018, they partnered up on a campaign called "For A Strawless Ocean."
"As surfers, the ocean is our home and we recognize that we have an opportunity to amplify the issues, showcase initiatives around the world, and ultimately inspire action." said WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt at the end of 2017.
From local and state laws, to the tireless efforts of ocean-minded organizations, to the most elite surfers in the world, this collective effort to reduce single-use plastic straws marks a huge step forward in the effort to save our seas. Hopefully, one straw at a time, we can begin to turn the tide on this problem.