Two weeks ago, the Takoma Park City Council voted unanimously to ban the use of plastic straws within the city limits. It was a joyous moment for environmentalists who worked for many years to change the city’s policy in order to help reduce plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans. Some residents, however, saw it instead as an assault on their rights.
Under the new plastic straw ban, restaurants can no longer offer plastic straws, and instead must only provide straws that are paper, metal, or glass. The new law doesn’t take effect until June 1st to allow restaurants owners time to comply.
Some concessions were made to allow residents who already own plastic straws the ability to use them without facing repercussions. As a result, the sale of plastic straws skyrocketed as city residents rushed to stockpile more before they become illegal to purchase. “It’s an outright attack on our freedoms!” cried Dale Pearlman. “Sure I can simply drink directly out of a glass, but because the government is telling me I have to, I’m not going to do it. We don’t need no straw control.”
Some straw owners have created modifications to their plastic straws to make them technically legal. “The law says we can’t have plastic straws, but it doesn’t say anything about semi-plastic straws,” stated Bob Whiteman. “For pennies, I can add a metal paper clip to my straw, which by law would make it legal in the City of Takoma Park.”
Other straw owners have fought the system by concealing their plastic straws in their clothes and special holsters. This has made it difficult for local law enforcement to catch everyone. The mayor has proposed creating a Straw S.W.A.T. Team within the local police department. The SWAT Team would be tasked with seeking individuals using plastic straws, and swatting them out of their hands.
Proponents of Straw Control defended the new laws, stating that straws were not originally made of plastic, but instead paper, and therefore, regulations need to change to meet with the times. “Today’s straws are completely different and more dangerous than in the past,” stated Barbara Lane. “When straws were made with paper, you got one drink out of it, then had to completely reload a new paper straw. Now with these new plastic straws, they can be used over and over, with rapid fire refills.”
In addition to banning plastic straws, the city has also created standards for the rate of flow through a straw by limiting the diameter size. “We looked at straws from a child safety perspective, and there is an epidemic of child fatalities from sugary beverages,” stated the City Manager. “If we can limit the flow of sugar into the child, we can reduce the occurrence of child obesity.”
Plastic straw enthusiasts plan to take the entire suite of new straw laws to the courts, where they are confident the laws will be overturned. “This country was founded on individual rights and liberties and that includes my right to drink a Slurpee through an oversized plastic tube,” said Pearlman. “If a sea otter has to choke to death to make that happen, then so be it. George Washington would have wanted it that way.”