Do you live in the Golden State? If so, say goodbye to a mainstay of soda counters: the humble plastic straw. Food & Wine reports that Governor Jerry Brown of California has just signed a law that bans full-service restaurants from passing out plastic straws with drinks. Customers will have to ask wait staff for a straw if they want to sip on their iced tea.
According to Brown, the inconvenience of asking for a straw pales in comparison to the damage that single-use plastics are doing to our planet. “Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” he said. “Plastics, in all forms — straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc. — are choking our planet.” The Los Angeles Times reports that Brown even referenced a pilot whale that washed ashore in Thailand; the whale was unable to digest its food because it had consumed more than 80 plastic bags, and it later died.
Servers everywhere know the singular pain of forgetting to give straws to their guests. Their tips can suffer if guests leave unhappy. Brown spoke directly to this sticking point in dining service, saying, “It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.” Luckily, Californian diners will have some time to adjust to the new law — it goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
The law will only affect full-service dining establishments — this excludes places like cafés, delis, juice bars, and bodegas/corner stores/party stores (whatever you call convenience stores in your regional parlance!), so you won’t need to pester the barista for a straw to drink your morning iced chai latte.