California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a law banning dine-in restaurants in the state from giving customers plastic straws unless they are specifically requested.
"Plastic has helped advance innovation in our society, but our infatuation with single-use convenience has led to disastrous consequences,” Brown wrote in a signing message, according to the L.A. Times.
Brown said that plastics "are choking our planet” and that it is “a very small step” to only provide a straw when a customer requests one.
"And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative,” Brown said. “One thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.”
According to ReuseThisBag.com, a supplier of recycled, reusable eco-friendly polypropylene grocery bags, the human population uses more than 320 million metric tons of plastic each year. Some of that waste ends up in oceans, where it kills plankton and algae, affects fish and filter feeders, and exposes animals to harmful substances.
In the United States, according to ReuseThisBag.com, plastic bags are banned in only three states—California, Washington and Hawaii—and a small number of other states have recycling and reuse programs.
Although other cities such as Seattle have also banned restaurants from providing plastic straws by default, California is the first state to ban the practice—potentially setting a precedent for other states to take action.