Portland, Oregon, Bans Restaurants From Automatically Giving Out Plastic Straws And Utensils

Portland, Oregon, is the latest city to cut back on the use of plastic straws and silverware. The Pacific Northwest city (not to be confused with culinary destination Portland, Maine) passed a resolution that will require customers to ask if they want a plastic straw or utensil, both at sit-down restaurants and when ordering takeout, reports Nation's Restaurant News. So rather than having a straw automatically placed in your cup when you order soda or water, you'll have to request one.

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Businesses which don't follow the new eco-friendly guidelines, which go into effect July 1, 2019, will face an initial warning, followed by fines between $100 and $500 for further violations.

Pete Chism-Winfield, program specialist with Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, told Oregon Public Broadcasting about the impetus behind the decision. "These plastics are cheap and a lot of businesses have made it a point to just include them in whatever order is happening for food and drink — and that is the default," he said.

This news comes on the heels of Seattle banning plastic straws in July, the first major U.S. city to do so. In early December, the Los Angeles City Council asked that a citywide straw ordinance similar to Portland's be drafted, reports the Los Angeles Times, "laying the groundwork for a complete ban in the future."

According to Fast Company, additional cities with straw bans include Miami Beach and Fort Myers, Florida; as well as Oakland and Berkeley, California, among others. The Oregon state legislature is also considering its own ban on plastic straws as well as a tax on plastic bags statewide, according to The Associated Press.

The environmentalist wave is also sweeping the business world, with Disney banning single-use plastic straws and stirrers from its theme parks and Starbucks planning to ditch them at all of its over 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020. If you want to do your part to help the Earth, here are some easy ways to make your next party eco-friendly.