Strawless in Seattle: How One City Committed to a Straw-Free September

Seattle, which recently approved a ban on plastic straws that will take effect next year, will get a practice run next month as part of the Lonely Whale Foundation’s "Strawless in Seattle" campaign.

Generally made of plastic and often difficult to recycle, straws pose an environmental issue that’s particularly problematic for the oceans—where many straws end up. It’s an issue nearly as serious as that of the foam containers that New York City keeps trying to ban.

On the other side of the country, Seattle is taking a stab at banning plastic straws. If a recently passed ordinance holds up until July 1, 2018, Seattle would become the first major city in the country to ban plastic straws in favor of renewable alternatives—beating out Berkeley, California, which has merely proposed such a ban.

But while the ban, which also affects plastic silverware, is a ways off from becoming the law of the land, it does have popular momentum in its favor, thanks to an event taking place in Seattle in September.

Strawless in Seattle will encourage local businesses throughout the city to drop the plastic straws and (when necessary) replace them with paper straws, plant-based straws, or reusable straws. The Lonely Whale Foundation, with the help of an array of local nonprofits, is sponsoring the campaign as part of its larger Strawless Ocean effort.

The campaign, which Lonely Whale is characterizing as a “citywide takeover,” will have a number of large-scale events. Actor Adrian Grenier, best known for his role on Entourage, is a founder of Lonely Whale and will kick off the event by throwing the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game. The group will also have a display at a Seattle Seahawks game, a pop-up shop, a film festival, and a two-day concert on Seattle’s waterfront. Additionally, the organization will have a presence at Zero Waste Washington’s Seattle Plastics Summit, taking place September 25.

And the campaign isn’t just being driven by events, either. According to TreeHugger, more than 100 restaurants (including 20 at the city’s Sea-Tac Airport), along with the Mariners, have agreed to drop straws throughout the month of September. CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks play, says it will eliminate plastic straws at all future events. And famed local restaurateur, Tom Douglas, says his restaurants will only offer paper straws to consumers who specifically ask for one.

In comments to TreeHugger, Grenier suggested that Seattle offers an important starting point for a long-term environmental movement.

“We are living during a critical turning point for our ocean, and that’s why I’m excited to celebrate the city of Seattle as a true ocean health leader,” Grenier told the website.

(tashka2000/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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