Debate: Should restaurants ban straws?

Photo illustration by Britney Beaty.

No plastic straws and utensils

Britney Beaty


Plastic straws and utensils create massive amounts of waste faster than we’re capable of managing.

They should be banned or limited because it is the first step to cultivating a culture that is actively aware of the amount of plastic created and the impact it has on our environment.

Since we do not see the negative effects of plastics first-hand, it is easy to pretend the problem does not exist.

However, there is no way we can continue living like this. It is going to catch up with us soon.

The way our culture uses plastics is a relatively new trend since we only started consuming 

products that use single-use plastics. 

Before the 1980s, plastic food containers and utensils weren’t as prevalent because more people ate at home instead of grabbing breakfast or coffee daily from a drive-thru.

Plastics are a popular material for utensils, bottles and to-go containers because they are very cheap to produce. 

However, that doesn’t mean plastic is the only material suitable to make straws. Alternative materials will become cheaper as they become more widely-used. 

Alternatives like silicon, paper or metal reusable straws currently exist.

The cheap price and accessibility of plastic straws and utensils are not worth the price our environment and natural life are paying for our comfort. 

It is not sustainable to use mass quantities of a single-use product that will never decay. Plastics will be around much longer than we will.


Pro-plastic straws and utensils

Kitty Porterfield


Starbucks, Marriott, Hilton and American Airlines are among companies that have vowed to phase out plastic straws in the next few years. While it’s encouraging to see people focusing on preserving the environment, banning plastic straws is pretty much useless. 


Straws represent a tiny portion of all the plastic that ends up in the ocean and the U.S. only accounts for 1 percent of all the plastic in the world’s ocean, according to a 2015 study in the academic journal Science. China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Sri Lanka contribute more than half of the plastic in our oceans.


So banning plastic straws in the U.S. will make virtually no difference. In fact, alternatives to plastic straws and other plastic products require more nonrenewable energy to produce than plastic products do, which is incredibly harmful to the environment.


These alternatives not environmentally friendly and they’re also inconvenient and more expensive to produce and buy. This is the primary reason people are not as open to buying theses “green” products. 


They are not readily available at every store and when they are, they’re much more expensive than their plastic counterparts. The quality of the product is also not good enough to compensate for the high price tag.


Any minor improvements we do make by replacing our plastic with glass or biodegradable material will not be visible for years, so it can seem like there is no point. It is hard to convince people to invest in reusable plastic and environmentally friendly products when they will not be alive to reap the benefits.