Last year, Heal the Bay volunteers collected nearly 13,000 plastic straws and stirrers from L.A. County beaches. Today the Board of Supervisors voted to restrict the use of those straws and stirrers in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County in order to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up on our beaches and in LA landfills and waterways.

The Board motion builds on recent forward-thinking city and state legislation that has restricted or banned single-use plastic products for food consumption. More than 100 municipalities in California including Santa Monica, Calabasas, Culver City, Hermosa Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, South Pasadena, and Hollywood have adopted similar ordinances. In addition, Disney and Starbucks recently announced plans to curtail the use of plastic straws.

Unlike the recently enacted state ban, the County motion will impact restaurants, bars, and fast food establishments, not just full-service restaurants and addresses the concerns of disabled people who may require straws.

“As of January 2019, servers will ask customers if they want a straw or stirrer. It’s up to the customer. If you want one, you can still get one,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, co-author of the motion. “Restricting the use of straws is one step toward a much larger goal of raising public awareness and reducing the amount of discarded plastics that pollute the planet.”

“So many of the plastic straws that end up being thrown out are ones that customers didn’t need or want,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “With a relatively small change of making plastic straws available only upon request we can make a big difference in the amount of wasted plastic that ends up in our landfills and pollutes our waterways.”