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Banning Plastic – Seattle Goes The Distance. Can Buffalo?

Seattle has become the first US city to ban plastic straws and utensils in restaurants. According to, moving forward, customers must ask for single use straws, utensils, drink stirrers, and cocktail picks – restaurants can no longer simply hand them out to customers. On top of that, the straws and utensils must be biodegradable, which will help to alleviate the global problem of plastic ending up in oceans and landfills. The city-wide plastic ban also applies to any other commercial entities that currently offer customers plastic straws and utensils.

Seattle has been making significant progress in environmental actions since 2009, when restaurants were banned from giving customers non-biodegradable take-out containers. The city also attempted to ban straws and utensils at that time, but discovered that there were not suitable alternatives available. Now that there are readily available biodegradable supplies, the city has enacted the ban.

This is great news that will helpfully encourage other cities to take action. It’s incredible to think that Buffalo/NYS still allows plastic bags, utensils, and the lot, to be doled out with reckless abandon. Our political representatives are not doing nearly enough to curb this environmental senselessness. pointed out that New York City and Los Angeles are both considering a ban on non-compostable straws and utensils. Can Buffalo jump on that action as well? Do any of our local leaders have any sense when it comes to protecting our waters? Plastic is a convenience, not a necessity.

In the meantime, we can all do our part to curb plastics from our lives. Take, for example, Coco restaurant at 888 Main Street in Buffalo (lead image). They have opted to provide paper straws to customers, as well as pasta drink stirrers. These straws and stirrers are only handed out to customers upon request (see here). These are the types of businesses that we should feel good about supporting. Perks Café is another good example of a business doing the right thing. The owners have declared that they will be ditching all plastic by the end of 2018.

As far as added expense for the restaurants (using biodegradable substitutes), it comes out as a wash. Although paper straws cost 10% more, fewer are dispensed. At this point, it all comes down to being proactive and making the necessary changes. In the end, we will all win. At the same time, we are currently losing the battle. Thankfully, cities such as Seattle are leading the way for others to take action.

If you’re looking for information on sourcing great paper straws, click here

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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