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San Francisco, following Oakland's lead, may soon ban plastic straws

By Matt Charnock

Single-use plastic drinking straws could soon go the way of the plastic shopping bag, the Styrofoam to-go container and the fur jacket in San Francisco—that is, they might join the long list of things which are no longer used within SF city limits.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Katy Tang announced her plan to roll out legislation that would add San Francisco to the growing list of cities who are aiming to cut down on the environmental plastic pollutants by banning plastic straws and coffee stirrers. 

“It’s sort of this moment where everyone is realizing just how many straws people are using on a daily basis, and that we really need to get a handle on this, or else our environment is going to suffer,” Tang said in a statement. “Here in San Francisco, this is quite literally the last plastic straw. We need to step up and do something about our wasteful daily habits when there are other alternatives.”

“Anything we can do to encourage the health of the ocean, which is a major topic for food as well, is something we’re enthusiastic about,” said Outerlands co-owner Dave Muller to the San Francisco Chronicleexplaining that his Outer Sunset restaurant replaced plastic straws with compostable paper ones about six months ago. Prior to that, Outerlands offered straws only upon request, which he said helped to cut down on the amount of straws used by around 90 percent.

“There’s a possibility that someone might get upset about having to pay more for straws, or that customers are used to this or that, but people were used to smoking cigarettes inside of restaurants not that long ago, so we have to adjust," he added.  

But San Francisco isn't the first local city to take action. Earlier this month, the Oakland City council unanimously passed legislation prohibiting the use of disposable plastic straws in all restaurants, bars, and cafes. Both San Luis Obispo and Davis enacted similar ordinances last year that require restaurants to ask dine-in customers if they want a single-use straw before providing one. 

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