Eric Warner Staff Writer
This past summer, Connecticut joined many states in the U.S. with starting their battle against single-use plastics. On Aug. 1, the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) issued a law that required all stores to incorporate the Plastic Bag Fee of $0.10 per check out bag. Although some stores responded to this law by entirely getting rid of single-use plastic bags, others are still selling them with the fee. This law would encourage customers to stop using plastic bags and possibly lead them to use renewable alternatives, for example, paper or other reusable bags. The goal of this law is that by July 1, 2021, Connecticut would ban all outlets from using plastic bags.
The production of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and straws, from the latter half of the twentieth century to the present day, has caused serious harm to environments worldwide. Plastic is not a natural element, so it’s very difficult for plastics to disintegrate. According to National Geographic, “…led by Jambeck, produced the first study that assessed the amount of plastic trash that flows into the oceans annually. That research, published in 2015, estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. That is the equivalent to 5 grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline around the globe”, which meant it would take plastics hundreds of years to degrade over time; leaving animals and their environments to be negatively affected by them. Ocean animals are the most vulnerable with plastic particles being found in many, if not all, oceans and rivers at this point. Some animals are being directly affected by single-use plastic products, for instance, sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish; this could lead them to eat plastic straws, which can get stuck in their nostrils. The overall success of the state law against plastic bags of the state could start the construction of a law banning the use of plastic straws. As stated by the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup, “plastic straws are the third most common source of food litter with wrappers coming in second and cigarette butts in first.” Since it would be far more difficult to begin replacing plastic food wrappers and cigarette butts, the DRS should begin constructing a law to force all outlets in the state to ban the dispersal of plastic straws. While many citizens have begun to use reusable straws and a few outlets are selling paper straws, this doesn’t mean that everybody is receiving these changes in a positive light.
Since many people found the paper or metal straws to be a bit irritating, here’s an alternative that Connecticut could support—pasta straws. Since they are relatively a new invention with companies, such as the United Kingdom’s Stroodles and The Amazing Pasta Straw, they have become very popular in coastal areas because they have limited negative effects on the environment. This past summer, you may have encountered coastal restaurants serving drinks with pasta straws, specifically near the ocean. Since these straws are made of pasta, they’ll be able to quickly decompose in water. Also, if an animal like a sea turtle encounters them, they can simply eat it or wait for it to disintegrate. People can even eat their straws after finishing their drinks since the pasta barely affects the flavor of the drink, though these straws probably shouldn’t be used in hot drinks like coffee (it’ll end up cooking the pasta). States, such as California and Florida, are already using pasta straws in various restaurants statewide. Connecticut should become the next state to join that roster.
In conclusion, the U.S. should have gotten behind the problem of plastics decades sooner. The planet has been so painfully damaged in the twentieth and twenty-first century by many problems caused by humans until very recently. Governments are now starting to address them across the world. It may be argued that these institutions are too late to address these problems, however, they’re addressing them now and that’s what matters. As the old saying goes, better late than never. Hopefully, Connecticut will be a state that tries to implement pasta straws, continuing its trend of trying to help out the planet.