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California bans restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless you ask for one

If you want to sip on a plastic straw at a restaurant, starting next year, you will have to ask for one. On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a “straw ban” law aimed at cutting down on plastic pollution.

Santa Maria restaurants like Senor Taco are already on board with the law.

“When they ask, ‘Where can I get a straw?’ We do tell them that they can come to the register and get it themselves. So we don’t hand them to them,” explained Elida Dimas, a cook at the Mexican restaurant.

The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, but Dimas said Senor Taco has been doing this ever since they heard Assembly Bill 1884 might be signed into law.

“It helps us get into the habit and let customers know, ‘Ok we’re gonna eat here, and the straws are right here,'” she said.

Some Senor Taco customers don’t have a problem with this practice.

“Me personally, I don’t really mind it,” shared Emmanuel Figueroa. “But I think [plastic straws] are not gonna go away any time soon. They’re still gonna be around.”

Dimas said other customers do think it’s inconvenient or think servers are being rude.

“Some customers do get annoyed that we don’t hand them their drink and their straw.”

She said people also see it as a sanitary concern.

“For like sanitary reasons people drink out of the same cup all the time, all the time. So a straw is like a cleaner way of drinking out of the same cup that everybody uses at a restaurant.”

Parents like Elon Cox said he’ll just have to remember to get straws for his 7-year old son.

“Especially in the car, you can’t have a can of open soda in the car, you know. With a straw it’s a lot easier that way,” explained Cox.

But others said they were glad to see California is taking steps to protect the environment.

“I think this is a good measure because plastic is not a material that just dissolves in the ocean,” shared Guillermo Nunez. “So I think this will help short and long-term goals to reduce pollution and threats to marine life.”

Restaurants can still hand out paper straws or metal straws without the customer’s request.

The law does not apply to fast food chains or convenience stores.

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