Environmental activist Shelia Morovati tirelessly collects garbage during visits to her local beach. Most of the garbage that is found is single-use plastic. In response, Morovati led a movement to ban plastic straws in the City of Malibu. With an overwhelmingly positive response, city council concluded that 65 food operatives would no longer be able to provide single-use plastics, such as stir sticks, straws, and plastic utensils at their establishments as of June 1, 2018. Restaurants will have to make the switch to more sustainable materials, such as bamboo or metal. There is a counterargument that switching to these materials will be too costly. However, one potential low-cost solution is the use of raw spaghetti in place of stir sticks.
This isn’t the first or last environmental effort Malibu plans to make. Malibu banned plastic bags in 2008 and is working towards banning plastic beverage caps and take-out containers. Morovati states, “If Malibu is doing it, so many other cities will follow suit”. She is correct that other places are following suit; Seattle and Florida will be implementing a ban on plastic straws and utensils as of July, and Los Angeles is also looking to ban plastic straws in the future.
There is an inexhaustible list of reasons to ban single-use plastic. Malibu’s environmental sustainability director, Craig George, explains, “This is a community based on its ocean and beaches and we want to protect those”. Being that plastic is not biodegradable, it only breaks down into smaller parts, never actually leaving the ocean. This plastic enters aquatic ecosystems and adversely affects marine life.
Malibu has shown that local change is incredibly powerful and can become a catalyst for further action.
How can you help create local change in your community?