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The Golden State is about to get a whole lot greener.

On Thursday, California officially became the first state to ban plastic straws in full-service restaurants. Starting January 1, 2019, dining establishments state-wide will no longer be allowed to hand out plastic straws unless a customer requests one; they also have the option of offering paper alternatives altogether.

The bill was signed by state Governor Jerry Brown in the hopes of reducing plastic pollution. "It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it," said Brown in a statement. "And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative."

Brown also helped California become the country's first to ban single-use plastic bags in 2014. "Plastic, in all forms-straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.-are choking our planet."

The latest straw ban joins other likeminded eco-efforts, both nationwide and globally, this year alone. Plastic bans have already kicked in to cities like Miami and Seattle, while countries like India announced plans to follow suit. Major food chains and corporations including McDonalds, Starbucks, and Alaska Airlines have also decided to ditch plastic straws in search of more sustainable alternatives.

On average, Americans alone consume about 500 million single-use plastic straws every single day. And with 91 percent of all discarded plastic never actually getting recycled, your seemingly harmless plastic sipper will likely end up in a landfill before finding its way into the ocean. In fact, by 2050, researchers estimate that at the rate at which we are tossing out plastic products, the oceans will be home to more plastic than fish.

But with the country's most populous state making more strides to cut back on single-use plastic, things could be looking up. Until then, consider replacing your plastic straws with one of our favorite reusable alternatives.


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