The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The local “Straw Ban” isn’t helpful, here’s what could be

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Plastic, the blight of all who care about the earth and the cancer slowly killing it.

It’s a classic example of human selfishness. People prioritize immediate convenience over the well-being of future generations and the planet itself. It’s derived from oil, a substance which is currently accelerating global warming, it was designed specifically so as to not degrade and is the cause of over one million deaths every year.

Ah, I forgot — because those who died aren’t human, I’m not supposed to care.

In response to all this, Santa Barbara’s City Council passed a law in July to ban businesses from selling plastic straws, with some exceptions, such as for medical usage. When it comes into effect in January, it’s laughable to think the impact of this policy alone will put a significant dent in the world’s yearly contribution to, say, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island the size of Texas made of trillions of plastic pieces. But that’s the nature of most environmental policies enacted at the city level.

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The hope is for these kind of efforts to reduce plastic waste to catch on, and for those more influential government entities to feel the pressure and pass laws in the long run. While we’re waiting for it to catch on, though, millions of beings are still dying.

Obviously, there is no need to regulate plastic straws. Surely there are much better solutions out there.

When there is likely to be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050, I seriously question whether we have enough time to be satisfied with passing token laws, passively hoping serious, comprehensive regulation of plastic will happen.

For instance, I don’t think it would be much to ask to reduce the production of tons upon tons of the plastic toys that exist only for mild entertainment. And how about subsidizing the use of reusable water containers, while educating the public about how tap water is usually safer than bottled water, and can always be passed through inexpensive filters otherwise? If the myth of foul tap water can be overcome, use of plastic water bottles would drop substantially without the potential public relations crisis of a ban on them.

The plastic straw ban is also yet another way for governments to pass the responsibility of alleviating the harm being done to the living world solely on consumers. What, if anything, is the Santa Barbara City Council doing to make the industries responsible for making plastic straws accountable for the harm their products do, tackling the problem at its source?

Wait, I seem to be a bit forgetful today — we’re supposed to let industry chug along unimpeded and produce whatever it wants in whatever quantities it wants, regardless of the consequences. As long as the economy benefits. As long as the only living beings dying en masse are mere animals.

Unquestioned beliefs are the real authorities of any culture. When will we start questioning the belief that industrial production should only be responsible for maximizing profit? When will we start holding corporations accountable?

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