Organization seeks to reduce plastic pollution through legislation
BETHANY BEACH, Del. – You may not think about it when you’re out to eat at a restaurant, but after you get up to leave what happens to that straw you were just using. That’s something Plastic Free Delaware, a non-profit organization, is asking restaurants and it’s customers to be more aware of this month.
The number of straws that wash up on Delaware’s beaches each year are staggering, DNREC reports that thousands of these pieces of plastic are picked up along Delaware’s 97 miles of coastline every year on Coastal Cleanup Day.
“Every year about 2,000 straws are documented to be found in just the three hour cleanup once a year,” said Dee Durham, co-chair and co-founder of Plastic Free Delaware.
That’s why Plastic Free Delaware created it’s No Straw November campaign, now in its second year.
“We started outreach to restaurants to get them to voluntarily move towards plastic straws by request only,” said Durham.
Over 100 restaurants in The First State are now straw by request only. But the environmental group isn’t done yet. They are now looking ahead to the next legislative session in Dover come January.
A bill is being discussed with some elected officials that would require all restaurants to become straw-by-request only, possibly being implemented over a year’s time.
Critics of a potential bill point to groups like the disabled who need plastic straws, but Durham says this legislation would not ban plastic straws outright. She says the hope is if this legislation passes, thousands, perhaps millions more plastic items can be prevented from entering our local waterways.
One of the businesses to join the coalition is Bethany Blues in Bethany Beach, who says becoming a straw-request-only business has helped the restaurants themselves, with less inventory now needed.
Durham says a meeting has been requested with House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf to discuss the bill that continues to be crafted.
Another bill in 2016 Plastic Free Delaware attempted to get passed dealt with single-use plastic bags. They had bipartisan support for that bill, and the organization hopes that will be the case this time around.