Suck it, California


Under Assembly Bill No. 1884, customers are still allowed to request plastic straws at full-service restaurants.

Assembly Bill No. 1884 Explained

On September 20, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill banning full-service restaurants in the state from automatically giving customers single-use plastic straws beginning in 2019.


Assembly Bill No. 1884 “prohibits a full-service restaurant, as specified, from providing single-use plastic straws, as defined, to consumers unless requested by the consumer.”


The law defines a “full-service restaurant” as an “establishment with the primary business of serving food.”


This law also states that at a “full-service” restaurant, customers are walked to their seats or the seating area, food and drink orders are taken at and delivered to the table, and the check is brought to customers at the end of the meal.


Fast food restaurants, coffee shops, delis, and convenience stores are exempt from the new straw restrictions.


The governor said plastic in the oceans is estimated to kill millions of marine animals each year, noting  that when a dead pilot whale washed up on a beach in Thailand recently, 80 plastic bags were found in its stomach that prevented the digestion of food.


“Plastics, in all forms–straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.–are choking our planet,” said Brown in a statement to CNN.


Assembly Bill No. 1884 is part of a global effort to reduce the use of plastic, which experts say makes up as much as 80% of all marine debris.


According to environmental group EcoCycle, Americans use an estimated 500 million disposable straws every day. Straws were also the seventh most common piece of trash picked up on beaches worldwide by volunteer cleanup crews associated with the marine conservation group Ocean Conservancy.


The war on straws arguably began in 2015 when a video of a marine biologist painfully extracting a plastic straw from the nose of sea turtle went viral on YouTube. The video, titled “Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril – ‘NO’ TO PLASTIC STRAWS,” gained over 30.7 million views on YouTube alone.


An article on cites, “Plastic straws have seemingly become public enemy number one this year, with celebrities like Tom Brady publicly promising to stop using them and and big companies like Alaska Airlines, Ikea, and Starbucks discontinuing their use or vowing to do so soon.”


Starbucks says it will phase out plastic straws completely by 2020 in favor of plastic sippy cups and compostable straws.


Brown continues his statement to CNN, “It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw to ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative.”

Though banning plastic straws is a step in the right direction, it still poses issues for some people with disabilities who depend on plastic straws with bendable necks for safe drinking. However, for the time being, reusable and compostable straws continue to become more prevalent. From metal and paper straws, to more creative options like straws made from pasta noodles, plastic straws are being rapidly replaced by more eco-friendly options.