Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Couple drinking from straws

California Assemblyman Ian Calderon is fed up with wasteful practices — and straws are the last straw.

Calderon, a Democrat from Whittier, has proposed a bill that would make it illegal for restaurant servers to give out unrequested straws — under threat of a $1,000 fine and possible jail time.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon, majority leader of California’s lower house, said in a release.

Calderon has made no statement concerning the legality of unrequested Oxford commas — the use of which actually should be punishable with a $1,000 fine and possible jail time.

Calderon has said that, should the bill be passed, it will be amended to nix the punishments.

This, of course, is probably how the Greeks explained their giant horse full of soldiers to the Trojans. “Sure, right now there are soldiers in that horse. But by the time you open the gates, we will have amended the horse to include no soldiers,” a Greek general may or may not have said.

Calderon Tweeted that the bill is not a “ban” on straws and that it will “NOT make it a crime for servers to provide plastic straws. My intention is simply to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic straws on our environment.”

Then why even make it a law? Why not just send out an email to let everyone know that straws are bad for the environment? Or maybe just, you know, Tweet the information?

If “awareness” is all Calderon wants, he’s got it. The proposed bill has gone viral. Sure, it’s mostly because of people who are goofing on the idea of criminal straw distributors, but it’s been widely seen nonetheless.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Calderon’s heart is in the right place.

Plastic straws are wasteful and, unless they’re the “Krazy” variety, aren’t even fun to use.

It’s a scientific fact that sipping from a glass filters the drink through all that cold, refreshing ice, making your drink tastier than when it’s sucked through a straw (this statement may not be backed by peer-reviewed scientific research and may just be my opinion.)

And we’ve all (probably) seen that viral video about the sea turtle that got a straw caught in his nose. It was heartbreaking. It was anecdotal and a statistical anomaly, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that Americans are a slightly wasteful people and straws and plastic bags are a good place to start with fixing that problem.

Should it be punishable by jail or fines to hand out these items without a formal request? Absolutely not. But should we try to curb their use anyway? Absolutely. Should this even be a law if there’s no enforcement aspect, as Calderon is claiming will be the case? Well, I mean I don’t see the harm but I also don’t see the point.

But then again, I’m not that sea turtle with the straw stuck in its nose. Maybe that turtle should be the one to vote on this law.

Parker Bowman is a staff reporter for the Hanford Sentinel, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ Parker_THS.  “Valley Vertigo,” named after the classic Hitchcock movie about obsession, is a weekly column about pop culture obsessions and anything else that may pop up throughout the week. 

Load comments