Honolulu city council voted 7-2 to ban plastic straws, utensils and polystyrene containers at businesses that serve food and at restaurants in the city. The ban is thought to be one of the strictest in the country.

The polystyrene ban will take effect in 2021 and the disposable plastic in 2022. Honolulu is on Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous island. The ban applies to all of Oahu. Maui and Molokai have banned foam containers, but not plastic forks, spoons and knives. Plastic bags were banned state-wide in 2015. California and New York have taken steps to state-wide plastic bag bans, but Hawaii’s inclusion of plastic utensils make it unique.

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Business owners were concerned about increased prices on Hawaii’s already high price of consumer goods. Because everything must be shipped to the island, prices are already high in the area. Lawmakers have been working with business owners to address their concerns about price. The council agreed that prepackaged items would be exempt from the plastics ban.

Council member Joey Manahan, who proposed the bill, said of the passage, “This is my contribution to mālama honua (care for the Earth). It is no longer mine, but everyone’s because we are talking about the well-being of our ʻāina, our oceans and our planet.”

Hawaii’s unique location makes it a hub for plastic and marine pollution. 85% of trash found on beaches is from single-use plastics.

Single-use plastic bans are in place around the nation, including states like California and Oregon. Single-use plastic bags gum up recycling centers, like in Providence, and are harmful to marine life. However, some states have a ban on banning plastic bags, the so-called “ban on bans” law. Read more about plastic pollution in One Green Planet. And check out Delaware’s planned plastic-bag ban.

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There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using  mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads

To learn more about the impact of plastic waste, please read the articles below: 

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