Our Pledge To You


Don’t stop with a plastic straw ban, get rid of all single-use plastics

A new law bars California restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws with drinks, starting next year.

Chicago voters approved a ban on plastic straws by 55 percent, though the referendum was non-binding. | AP file photo

The controversy in your article on the referendum to ban plastic straws has an easy fix. Instead of banning all plastic straws in the city, as the approved ballot initiative recommended, offer them if requested. The disability advocates have a legitimate concern. Some in that community require straws. But for most people, straws are not needed, or could easily be replaced by the paper straws I remember from my youth.

Plastic straws are too small to recycle and often end up in the water, killing marine wildlife. That is why Shedd Aquarium has its “Shedd the straw” campaign. Americans use, and throw out, an astounding 500 billion straws a day, according to the Shedd.

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As the article mentions, straws are only the tip of the iceberg. All forms of single-use plastics are a problem, cluttering up our landfills, oceans and even the Great Lakes. More than 22 million pounds of plastics end up in the Great Lakes each year, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes. And as they break down into tiny pieces, we are now getting microplastics in our drinking water and thus, in our bodies. An estimated 1 billion plastic particles are floating on the surface of Lake Michigan, the Alliance says. Enough. We need to take action.

The City Council should look at banning single-use plastics in their entirety, with straws and plastic cutlery as a first step, as Seattle, Malibu, California and other places have done. For decades, plastic seemed the ideal material — cheap, light and durable. The problem is when you use it once and toss it, it never goes away. We’re starting to drown in the stuff.

Cynthia C. Linton, Streeterville

Back to paper straws

Your article City voters OK plastic straw ban; advocates for people with disabilities worried (Nov. 10) states that “Disability rights advocates nationwide have spoken out against such ban…” and adds that they argue that persons with limited arm mobility and mouth control need straws to drink.

I have been a nurse for 50 years, and people with limited mobility have had to drink for a long time before I became one. We used straws, but they were made of paper, not plastic. The bendable elbow in paper straws was a fantastic invention at the time. Plastic really didn’t add anything to the usability of straws. We need to return to paper, disposable, degradable straws to help our currently plastic-clogged environment. Straw manufacturers just need to step up to make them.

Janice Podolski, Naperville

Target convenience

In the Lake View neighborhood, two new Target stores opened back-to-back in 2017: one at School Street and Ashland Avenue, and another at Belmont Avenue and Clark Street, only a few blocks apart. As a North Side resident, I’m glad I have these options, especially as I don’t drive.

But if Target has the resources to open new stores that are literally within walking distance from each other, why is this company closing two stores on the South Side? For non-drivers, having to trek to stores at distant locations will be quite a hardship. Why can’t my South Side neighbors also have the convenience of multiple options?

Diane O’Neill, North Center