News

Mountain View's last straw

Local spearheads Strawless September campaign to fight plastic pollution

A small crowd gathered around a dirty, 2-liter bottle filled to the brim with shiny plastic objects at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The items were found inside the stomach of a dead Laysan albatross, a white seabird native to the North Pacific who mistook them for shrimp and other crustaceans, explained a staff member. Seeing this, Mountain View resident Bobbi Emel Wilmoth said she knew that something needed to change.

The idea behind a Strawless September in Mountain View came into fruition shortly thereafter. Recently, major companies including Starbucks, Disney, American Airlines and Hyatt announced that they will be reducing or eliminating their plastic straw usage in the near future.

Having caught wind of various movements throughout the nation, including Strawless In Seattle, Wilmoth decided to "go ahead and take the plunge," asking Castro Street restaurants to stop providing straws to customers during the month of September.

"My hope is that customers and restaurant staff will be more aware about the problems of single-use plastic straws and be reminded to say, 'No straw' when they order a beverage at a restaurant and/or carry an alternative, such as a stainless steel straw, a bamboo straw, a glass straw, or silicone straw," said Wilmoth.

Several local eateries agreed to take part in the campaign initially: Olympus Caffe & Bakery, Ephesus Mediterranean Cuisine, Red Rock Coffee, Doppio Zero, Oren's Hummus and 1 Oz. Coffee.

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Americans use about 500 million straws every day; because plastics are not biodegradable, one plastic straw can take up to 200 years to degrade, and even then, the straw is not completely broken down. Straws are also among the top 10 items found in beach cleanups around the world.

"Even (if) it was only the restaurants on Castro Street, I thought it could really help increase community awareness on a local level about the problem with single-use plastic straws," said Wilmoth.

There are concerns about the impact of a plastic straw ban on the disabled population. Those with physical challenges may need flexible straws to drink beverages, and most straws made of alternative materials don't meet this requirement. "While we want to eliminate the mass use of plastic single-use straws, I actually encourage restaurant owners to keep at least one box of plastic flexible straws for their customers with special needs," Wilmoth said.

Wilmoth said she encourages residents to stay away from compostable straws because they are not marine biodegradable, meaning that if they reach the ocean, they will not break down.

In the meantime, Wilmoth credits the idea behind the Mountain View campaign to the short presentation that she happened to witness while in Monterey. "That demonstration changed my life," she said. "If we could save even one ocean creature from a painful death or painful experience ... the campaign will be worth it."

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More information about Mountain View's Strawless September can be found at mvstrawlessseptember.org.

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Mountain View's last straw

Local spearheads Strawless September campaign to fight plastic pollution

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 8:25 am

A small crowd gathered around a dirty, 2-liter bottle filled to the brim with shiny plastic objects at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The items were found inside the stomach of a dead Laysan albatross, a white seabird native to the North Pacific who mistook them for shrimp and other crustaceans, explained a staff member. Seeing this, Mountain View resident Bobbi Emel Wilmoth said she knew that something needed to change.

The idea behind a Strawless September in Mountain View came into fruition shortly thereafter. Recently, major companies including Starbucks, Disney, American Airlines and Hyatt announced that they will be reducing or eliminating their plastic straw usage in the near future.

Having caught wind of various movements throughout the nation, including Strawless In Seattle, Wilmoth decided to "go ahead and take the plunge," asking Castro Street restaurants to stop providing straws to customers during the month of September.

"My hope is that customers and restaurant staff will be more aware about the problems of single-use plastic straws and be reminded to say, 'No straw' when they order a beverage at a restaurant and/or carry an alternative, such as a stainless steel straw, a bamboo straw, a glass straw, or silicone straw," said Wilmoth.

Several local eateries agreed to take part in the campaign initially: Olympus Caffe & Bakery, Ephesus Mediterranean Cuisine, Red Rock Coffee, Doppio Zero, Oren's Hummus and 1 Oz. Coffee.

Americans use about 500 million straws every day; because plastics are not biodegradable, one plastic straw can take up to 200 years to degrade, and even then, the straw is not completely broken down. Straws are also among the top 10 items found in beach cleanups around the world.

"Even (if) it was only the restaurants on Castro Street, I thought it could really help increase community awareness on a local level about the problem with single-use plastic straws," said Wilmoth.

There are concerns about the impact of a plastic straw ban on the disabled population. Those with physical challenges may need flexible straws to drink beverages, and most straws made of alternative materials don't meet this requirement. "While we want to eliminate the mass use of plastic single-use straws, I actually encourage restaurant owners to keep at least one box of plastic flexible straws for their customers with special needs," Wilmoth said.

Wilmoth said she encourages residents to stay away from compostable straws because they are not marine biodegradable, meaning that if they reach the ocean, they will not break down.

In the meantime, Wilmoth credits the idea behind the Mountain View campaign to the short presentation that she happened to witness while in Monterey. "That demonstration changed my life," she said. "If we could save even one ocean creature from a painful death or painful experience ... the campaign will be worth it."

More information about Mountain View's Strawless September can be found at mvstrawlessseptember.org.

Comments

proud MV resident
Shoreline West
on Sep 3, 2018 at 2:46 pm
proud MV resident, Shoreline West
on Sep 3, 2018 at 2:46 pm
3 people like this

Very happy to learn about this effort and support Strawless September. Please provide information about where to get the alternatives (bamboo straw, etc) mentioned in article. I also contacted local restaurant about this issue. In a nice restaurant with cloth napkins and glassware they put a plastic straw in every water glass! So unnecessary! Glad to support any initiative that helps us reduce our plastic consumption.


Robyn
another community
on Sep 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm
Robyn, another community
on Sep 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm
7 people like this

Now that China does not accept our plastic waste, there is no recycling. The government programs are merely collection, transportation and storage businesses for which we pay. It hardly makes ecological sense to pack trash to send to China on a ship and then have it come back on another ship as car bumpers, or whatever.
Our family now uses Gatorade powder to avoid the various fees, ie CRV and sugar tax. These fees are not realistically recoverable. Perhaps plastic will be taxed out of existence.
Several years ago, it was suggested that the plastic carriers for six cans of pop be cut up so as not to strangle sea life.
Hospitals should be exempt.
Happy Labor Day!


MV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Sep 3, 2018 at 3:44 pm
MV Resident , Old Mountain View
on Sep 3, 2018 at 3:44 pm
79 people like this

I’m more worried about the RV’s with AR-15s in them and the spray-painted concerted school bus/meth labs than I am about the straws.


Nick
Castro City
on Sep 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm
Nick, Castro City
on Sep 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm
194 people like this

Ridiculous. Nutjobs hopping onto whatever the latest fad is, without really thinking about the cost/benefit.

Just request no straw if you don't like it, but don't push your policies on everyone else.

How about banning international air travel? Buying products from China? These are much worse contributors to environmental damage than a straw, which can easily be properly disposed.


Jerry
North Whisman
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:33 pm
Jerry, North Whisman
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:33 pm
8 people like this

I'll have to agree with Nick, but only with the content. The tone was unnecessarily sarcastic. we need to be a lot more civil if we're to think through complex problems together. Those "nut jobs" are your neighbors, and potential allies in addressing climate change.

Straws are a good start, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking we're taking "bold action" by banning this most visible use of plastics. How about all the single use plastic clam shell packaging? How about the acres of plastic wrapped around shipping pallets? How about plastic shopping bags? And how about...?

We're going to have to dig a lot deeper to get out of this hole.


Relativity
Bailey Park
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Relativity, Bailey Park
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm
5 people like this

Americans supposedly use 500 million plastic straws every day—or not.
It turns out that the math behind that figure was done by a nine-year-old in 2011.
But, let's say—for the sake of argument—that as many as 500 million plastic straws are used in the US every day.
That would be about 182.5 billion straws a year.

Pretty soon I'll have to 'concealed carry' my plastic straws!


MV's Finest(?)
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:59 pm
MV's Finest(?), Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2018 at 5:59 pm
72 people like this

Don't you just love it when our resident libertarians show up on these boards?

It's always the same song from them -- "So what if it affects everyone else? I don't care, I don't care, I don't care...!"


David T
Whisman Station
on Sep 3, 2018 at 6:07 pm
David T, Whisman Station
on Sep 3, 2018 at 6:07 pm
57 people like this

Where did that 500 million a day originate? There are only 330 million people in the country. Who is using 3+ straws a day to make up for my zero straws? Smells incorrect.


Bill
North Bayshore
on Sep 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Bill, North Bayshore
on Sep 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Like this comment

There are at least two intertwined issues here. One is the specific risk discarded straws pose in the ocean. Another is the general problem of continually producing single-use plastic items and then disposing of them. The first problem could be solved by simply not putting straws or other trash in the ocean. Instead put them in landfills. Nearly all land-based Americans already do this. The ocean trash comes from ships at sea (e.g. cruise ships, Navy ships, commercial shipping) and cash-strapped smaller countries using the ocean as an inexpensive dump. No matter what we do without here in the US, it will not affect those sources.

The larger issue of using oil to produce disposable goods is a tough problem. I am reminded, however, of an observation I read many years ago that we would come to regret burning up our petroleum as a fuel instead of saving it to use as a lubricant and as the feedstock for numerous manufactured items, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, and a myriad of other chemicals used in everyday life and in industry.


Henry
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Sep 3, 2018 at 11:36 pm
Henry, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Sep 3, 2018 at 11:36 pm
2 people like this

For my Frap, the whole cup is plastic. Should Starbucks and other places serving coffee just use cardboard cups - even for cold drinks? As to bringing my own non-plastic straw, I guess I could check a head shop. Or maybe I should quit drinking coffee.


Skeptic
Gemello
on Sep 4, 2018 at 6:48 am
Skeptic, Gemello
on Sep 4, 2018 at 6:48 am
50 people like this

And of course no one questions the premie of the story. Was this in fact the contents of the bird or a set up. And if true ( 2 liters ?) about the contents, any actual evidence this is what the bird died off. Great vetting by our reporter.


Skeptic
Gemello
on Sep 4, 2018 at 7:00 am
Skeptic, Gemello
on Sep 4, 2018 at 7:00 am
2 people like this

And of course no one questions the premie of the story. Was this in fact the contents of the bird or a set up. And if true ( 2 liters ?) about the contents, any actual evidence this is what the bird died off. Great vetting by our reporter.

Of course all of this should be blamed on straws

From the Smithsonian

The effects of plastic on the chicks hasn't been scientifically proven. It’s probable that it injures or kills the birds by cutting their stomachs or taking up space, making them feel “full” when they are starving. On Midway Atoll, many albatross chicks are killed by lead poisoning, making it hard to separate the effects of the plastic from that of the lead.


Brian J
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2018 at 8:42 am
Brian J, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Sep 4, 2018 at 8:42 am
3 people like this

Any ban on plastic straws must account for the needs of bubble tea establishments. Paper straws big enough to drink boba are not available at reasonable prices.


Long time MV res.
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 8:49 am
Long time MV res., Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 8:49 am
4 people like this

"Straws are also among the top 10 items found in beach cleanups around the world."
That's why it is reasonable to expect reducing straw use will have a positive impact.
Yes there are other sources of pollution, but you prioritize based on what can have a significant impact and what is possible to achieve.


Really???
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:12 pm
Really???, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:12 pm
83 people like this

I will start worrying about birds and plastic straws when there are no homeless people sleeping on our streets, no children going to bed hungry every night, no more cancer, heart disease, old people eating dog food because they can't afford decent food, people going without their medication because they can't afford it, abused women and children, DUI killers. Is that enough for you? Priorities people! Get your head in the game; there are a lot bigger issues right in your own back yard.


Whelp...
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:15 pm
Whelp..., Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:15 pm
14 people like this

Many of us can actually deal with more than one thing at at time, but more power to anyone working to fight any of our societal ills, big or small.


Really???
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:23 pm
Really???, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:23 pm
4 people like this

Whelp - "Having caught wind of various movements throughout the nation, including Strawless In Seattle, Wilmoth decided to "go ahead and take the plunge," asking Castro Street restaurants to stop providing straws to customers during the month of September." Did she ever ask them if they would give some food and/or water to any of the homeless people in the area? Doesn't sound to me like she "can actually deal with more than one thing at a time".


Whelp...
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:48 pm
Whelp..., Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:48 pm
6 people like this

And yet I really think we'll all get through it with minimal if any real impact to our our daily lives, assuming you're not int the plastic straw industry(jk).

Seriously, I see this having zero impact to me and registering an unwavering, dead flat 0.00 on my "Could-give-a-care-ometer"


Whelp...
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:53 pm
Whelp..., Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:53 pm
12 people like this

"Doesn't sound to me like she "can actually deal with more than one thing at a time"."

That's because you only imagined in your mind the answer to the question you posed.! LOL. C'mon!
No, really, it'll all be OK. You'll see.


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