The Norwalk Connecticut Common Council voted unanimously on September 24, 2019 to pass an ordinance to mitigate pollution from single-use plastic straws and stirrers!
At the request of the Common Council member Tom Livingston this summer, Surfrider reviewed the proposed ordinance and offered feedback on the language and policy mechanisms. We recommended advancing a ban on plastic straws and ask-first policy for natural-made / non-plastic straws, while negotiating accommodation for persons identifying as living with disability and their advocates to account for the real need for certain types of straws to be available for drinking aid. While the final ordinance institutes an ask-first policy rather than a ban on straws, it does ban plastic stirrers and is a good step in the right direction for urging a shift in consumer behavior and limiting pollution.
Our Connecticut Chapter vice chair, Rachel Precious, spoke at the public hearing, as did Olivia, a twelve year old student who participated in the chapter's cleanup with Skip the Straw Norwalk on International Coastal Cleanup Day, 9/21/19.
Olivia brought all the straws picked up in Norwalk on Saturday with her to the hearing to ask the council to support the straw mitigation ordinance.
The vote in Norwalk came on the heels of the Youth Climate Strike held on September 20, 2019, where an estimated 4 million people participated in strikes worldwide to demand immediate climate action just three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit and five days ahead of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is more clear than ever that youth will lead the way for implementing solutions to sustain life on the planet.
Not only does plastic in the ocean negatively impact marine ecosystems, human health, marine life and tourism economics, but a recent study also showed that plastic degraded in the ocean releases methane and ethylene, two powerful greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate change.
Traditional plastics are made from fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases throughout their life cycle. Over the past four decades, global plastics production has quadrupled and if this trend persists, the greenhouse gas emissions from plastics will reach 15% of the global carbon budget by 2050! That's one reason why we know recycling alone is not the answer to our plastic pollution problem, and why we must stop the production of single-use plastics all together by advancing sound laws and policies that stop them from being made in the first place (aka source reduction).
The Surfrider Foundation applauds the work of the Norwalk Common Council for recognizing the connection between plastic pollution and the climate crisis, and championing progress to help lead the way forward by passing local laws that will help build the case for support of additional state law.