Miami Beach, other cities ban plastic drinking straws

Stephanie Sylvester

Florida has one of the most extensive environmental statutes in its state constitution than any other state in the nation. One may ask why is the environment so important to Florida especially? Florida’s geographical location, weather, vegetation and wildlife plays a huge role in the government’s decisions to produce stricter laws to conserve, preserve and protect the environment.

Miami Beach in south Florida is one of those cities where the government is taking positive strides to improve environmental regulations simply by banning plastic straws.

Miami started this environmental plight in the spring of 2012 launching a partial ban of plastic straws on the beach and beachfront businesses to decrease the litter and protect the wildlife. Animals like turtles are negatively affected by the litter of plastic straws that can get stuck in their eyes, nose or throat. Additionally, plastic can take hundreds of thousands of years to decompose, which is terrible for the environment. Therefore, Miami Beach has moved to place a complete ban on plastic straws being served in city-owned businesses.

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez currently running for Democratic congress and one of the sponsors responsible for passing the bill on banning plastic straws voiced a tough statement expressing her deep concern for the environment. “I realize by 2050, there’s going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish,” she said. “So, we all need to do our part.”

Fort Myers and Surfside are the few cities in Florida that have followed suit with placing a ban on plastic straws. Not only have plastic straws been banned, but Styrofoam has as well. Although Florida is advocating for the environment by banning plastic straws, not everyone is happy with the decision. The vote was four to one with Council Member Anita Cereceda, who was the one against enacting the ordinance. She claimed that banning plastic straws was a small and insignificant change and that a better attempt could be made to protect the environment by focusing on microplastics instead which are clogging the Gulf as we speak.

Additionally, arguments have engendered from the fact that the bill does not consider disabled individuals. Banning straws makes it more complicated for some disabled individuals like those with tremors, to consume drinks straight from the cup or a sippy cup. To combat this issue, lawmakers are pushing to get companies to adopt paper straws or straws made from biodegradable material. Still the argument arises that those materials may dissolve in the drink too easily or may not be cleanly.

Thirty-three other states throughout the country including California, Washington and New York have followed suit with banning things like Styrofoam cups and plastic straws as means to protect the environment. These bans may seem small at first, but they can work up to reaping beneficial results for the future. What is important to take away from these decisions is that the fight to protect the environment, the animals and the ocean does not stop here. Many more movements and ideas are cooking up on local, state and federal levels to go green.

Follow the hashtags “#StrawsSuck” and “#StopSucking” on all social media platforms to support and keep up with the movement to ultimately make the world a better place.