Monterey pushes to eliminate plastic straws with 'No Straw November'

It's just a campaign, but it could be the first step toward an ordinance

The city of Monterey wants people to stop using plastic straws in an effort to reduce waste and keep plastic out of the ocean.

Getting a straw with your drink has become the norm.

"I've been using a straw my whole life, so I just automatically take it out of the package and I put it inside," said Starbucks customer Marcello Silva.

Monterey is trying to break this habit with its No Straw November campaign.

"That's the point is to get people to think about the level of waste even these small things can create when you do it over and over several times per day it does have an impact," said Ted Terrasas, the Monterey sustainability coordinator.

About 500 million plastic straws are used and tossed in the United States every day.

Monterey wants people to start requesting no straws in their drinks – and it is hoping local restaurants will start asking if people want a straw at all.

"You know we will give it a shot if that is what the city wants to do," said Chris Culcasi of Rosine's Restaurant.

Culcasi says people like their straws. The restaurant tried eco-friendly straws a few years ago, but it didn't go over well.

“We would serve drinks with the paper straws, and people would throw them back at us. ‘I don't want these straws; gives us something else – give us the real straws,’” Culcasi said.

But many of those plastic straws end up in our oceans.

"Once they're in there – once any plastic is in there, it really sticks around for a while, said Erin Eastwood of Monterey Bay aquarium. “Plastic doesn't really degrade in the ocean, so some estimates say that plastic can stay for up to a century."

The aquarium doesn't have a number on how many plastic straws end up in the ocean, but they say they are one of the top five items found in the sand during beach cleanups.

Meanwhile, the Monterey sustainability coordinator says that for now, No Straw November is just a campaign. Depending on the response, it could be the first step toward an ordinance.

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