TCPalm: Should local government ban plastic straws — or be banned from banning them?

Article Posted on February 7, 2019

By: Gil Smart, Treasure Coast Newspapers

Belly up to the bar at Gilbert's Coffee Bar in Stuart and ask for a straw, and they'll give you hay.

That is, HAY! Straws: Biodegradable drinking straws made from wheat stems. Or maybe a glass straw, depending on your beverage. And if you want something to go, it too will be packed in something biodegradable.

No styrofoam. Minimal plastic. Which is why Gilbert's Coffee Bar is one of four local restaurants certified by the Treasure Coast Chapter of the Surfider Foundation as "Ocean Friendly."

And maybe, it makes a debate unfolding in the state capital — and in local communities around Florida — a moot point.

A growing number of local communities around the Sunshine State are banning plastics. Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables recently adopted restrictions on "single use" plastic straws, joining several other local governments across the state with similar bans.

None of the bans is total — meaning the gendarmes aren't going to come drag you away if you use plastic straws in the comfort of your own home. Fort Lauderdale restricted sale or distribution of plastic straws in businesses, city facilities and permitted events; Coral Gables employed a lighter regulatory touch, banning them from city facilities, parks and at city-permitted events.

The idea is to cut down on the amount of plastic littering the oceans, and try to prevent horrific scenes like that in a 2015 viral video of marine biologists pulling a plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle…

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