Straw Free: Environmental group wants to reduce plastic straw waste

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- After voters passed a statewide ban on plastic bags in 2016, one group in Huntington Beach hopes to reduce the use of plastic straws.

Straw Free wants to help clean up beaches and waterways across California by getting people to say no to plastic straws.

"There are about 500 million straws used every day in the United States. That's enough straws to wrap the world twice," said Benjamin Green, with Straw Free.

Green said the group wasn't currently seeking legislation against plastic straws, but instead was focusing on outreach to encourage people to seek alternatives to plastic straws.

"Give people the opportunity to refuse a plastic straw, instead of just automatically putting it into their cocktail or automatically putting it in their cup of water," he said.

The idea came from numerous beach clean ups where one person could pick up dozens of straws in just an hour, according to Green.

The movement caught the attention of Alicia Whitney, who owns Sea Legs Wine Bar in Huntington Beach and several other restaurants on the beach.

"Yesterday we were cleaning up the beach, getting ready to open and found a ton of straws in our sand," Whitney explained.

Straw Free is repurposing bamboo from homes and turning them into straws for sale, but Whitney said the expensive alternatives were unlikely for businesses.

Whitney also said she understands guests who want or need straws, but stated that she wanted to do her part in reducing plastic waste one straw at a time.

"All of our restaurants will be asking our guests if they would like a straw with their service so we can reduce our usage of straws and plastics in the environment," Whitney said.
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