On Monday, Malibu's City Council banned restaurants and other businesses in the area from giving customers plastic straws, stirrers, or utensils, according to the L.A. Times. The decision was a culmination of a campaign led by a local woman named Sheila Morovati, who started petitioning the Council last year after walking down the beach with her family, collecting plastic waste from the sand and water.
Craig George, the city's environmental sustainability director, gave a statement saying this was a strongly supported measure in the seaside town's community, and that Malibu should lead as an example for other cities who want to take a stand against plastic pollution.
"This is a community based on its ocean and beaches and we want to protect those," said George. "Individual cities have to decide how they're going to protect the earth. We've got to start somewhere. If we can start locally, that's the best place to start."
In addition to the human inhabitants who want to enjoy a clean beach, the area is home to a lot of wildlife who play and live close to the shore, who are potentially imperiled by plastic waste in the water.
But there is considerable criticism of the decision. Businesses have until June 1st to make the transition, and many fear they won't be able to find an affordable alternative to plastic to buy in bulk. However, Malibu had success with a measure to ban plastic bags in order to protect marine life, as far back as 2008. Malibu's Mayor, Rick Mullen, backed the new change saying it was the "right thing to do" even if people have to "pay a little more for something to do the right thing."
Businesses fear that cost will be put on them rather than the consumer, and for smaller establishments that could be a serious problem. There's no easy answer as people recognize the desperate need to shift away from single use plastic, but manufacturers should take heed: there is a big market for people who want to do the right thing if they could just find a product to help them do it.