If the moody teenage drama “The O.C.” took place today, there would probably be a lot of straws strewn along Malibu’s coastline during any number of the show’s moonlit, bonfire scenes.
And that’s a prospect too grim to contemplate for the city’s local council, who voted Mar. 4 to ban the sale, distribution, and use of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and plastic cutlery beginning June 1, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Mayor Rick Mullen said that the ban is meant to keep plastic pollution from reaching the city’s beaches and the ocean, according to LVRJ.
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All local businesses will have less than three months to secure alternatives, such as bamboo, paper, or metal, or other materials.
The city council will provide food businesses with a box of paper straws and posters reading “Keep It Clean Malibu” to be displayed for customers to see, LVRJ reports.
Malibu’s vote comes as an increasing number of cities, states, and countries throughout the world decide that the convenience of plastic is no longer worth its environmental costs.
Globally, around 380 million metric tons of plastic are being created annually. Meanwhile, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans each year, which is like emptying a garbage truck of plastic into an ocean every minute.
Straws, in particular, have become a flashpoint for activists.
Each day, US citizens use about 500 million straws, according to Eco-Cycle. Considering the US accounts for just 4.4% of the global population, the global number of straws used daily is probably much higher.
Almost none of these straws can be recycled because they’re generally made from single-use plastic and are so flimsy that they can’t endure the recycling process.
Even more sweeping proposals are underway.
The UN recently proposed a global ban on plastic pollution entering the oceans; Canada is planning to introduce a similar proposal at the G7 gathering later this year; and a range of local, state, and federal governments are enacting targeted and sweeping bans on plastic use.
Global Citizen campaigns to encourage companies and people to find alternatives to plastic and you can take action on this issue here.
The kids in “The O.C.” were probably too busy sulking around mansions to realize local shores were filling up with plastic, but if there’s ever a reboot of the show, hopefully the cast will be able to stroll wistfully along beach piers without worrying about stepping on a piece of plastic because of Malibu’s new ordinance.