Goodbye, Plastic Straws

By Tess U-Vongcharoen

The removal of plastic straws could possibly mean the removal of boba shops. As of July 2019, restaurants and shops in San Francisco will no longer be distributing plastic straws to their customers. Although this is an environmentally effective action, boba shops, such as Boba Guys, are in jeopardy of losing their businesses. According to NextShark, Andrew Chau, co-owner of Boba Guys, said, “We literally can’t have an operation without straws.” All boba shops depend on large and sturdy plastic straws that can slurp tapioca pearls. However, due to this new policy, businesses are rushing to find alternative options for straws in less than a year. Not only is this change costly, but finding wide straws are difficult due to the small amount of manufacturers that produce them.  

Influenced by San Francisco’s recent actions, California became the first state to ban single-use plastic straws at dine-in restaurants, unless requested by customers. On Thursday, September 20, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed this new law, which will become effective in January of 2019. If restaurants fail to obey this new rule, owners could face a penalty of $25-$1000, and even a jail time of six months. Not only are cities banning plastic straws, but large companies, such as Walt Disney and Starbucks, are also joining this cause. Disney Resorts hope to remove all single-use plastic straws by the middle of 2019 and Starbucks is changing their plastic lids to “adult sippy cups.”

With the recent ban of plastic straws nationally, many are curious on why this anti-straw movement just began. This movement was ignited in 2015, when Christine Figgener, a field biologist, posted a viral video of her removing a plastic straw stuck in a turtle’s nose, which left the turtle bleeding immensely. Ever since this discovery, the turtle has been used as a poster child and on advertisements in order to raise more awareness on the harmful effects of plastic.

With constant new regulations on plastic straws, restaurants are affected immensely, but how much will you be, too? Next time you are visiting a boba shop, check to see if there has been a change in straws.

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