Seattle's Straw Ban Sucks

Another petty progressive restriction is handed down.


An eco-terrorist uses a straw
Howard Sayer/Dreamstime

Seattle would like you to suck a little less.

That's the message from last week's decision by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) to prohibit the city's food service industry from offering plastic straws and utensils with their meals. The ban, which will take effect in July 2018, will apply to restaurants, but not grocery or supply stores.

Specifics of the policy have yet to be determined.

"Seattle is a super-progressive city, and we had a lot of support for phasing some of these things out," SPU spokesperson Becca Fong told the Seattle Times.

Whatever support exists for the straw ban is being marshaled by the Lonely Whale Foundation—co-founded by Entourage star Adrian Grenier. Earlier this month, the Foundation launched its "Strawless in Seattle" campaign.

The goal of the campaign—sponsored by big names like the Space Needle, CenturyLink field, and a clutch of famous restaurateurs—is to get Seattle restaurants to swap out their destructive plastic straws ($4.29 for a pack of 500) for the more environmentally-friendly paper straws ($25 for a pack of 400).

The added expense may lead some businesses to stop offering straws all together. That does not faze Lonely Whale Foundation Executive Director Dune Ives, who said at a Thursday press conference, "when they go to a restaurant they may not get a straw — and that's OK."

The level of celebrity and corporate support for this latest local progressive policy is uncommon. The lack of concern for people's pocket books and individual liberties is not.

Over the past several years, Seattle's tirelessly working city council has passed a stream of policies that leave increasingly little room for residents to make their own choices.

This includes the petty progressivism of the city's 2012 plastic bag ban, its recently passed soda tax (they'd rather subsidize your farmer's market trip instead), and its microscopic regulation of workers' schedules—all of which have made life more expensive and less convenient.

The city has also been chalking up impressive gains in the urban class struggle, passing a municipal income tax, a $15 dollar minimum wage, increasingly strict tenants' rights laws, and a first-in-the-nation Democracy Voucher program.

Sometimes these ordinances are clear violations of economic law. Take the $15 minimum wage, which has devastated the paychecks and employment prospects of low wage workers.

At other times, Seattle's initiatives are clear violations of the actual law. Its income tax is facing three separate lawsuits over its dubious legality. As is its publicly-funded Democracy Voucher program (covered by Reason here, here, and here) which is being sued for unconstitutionally compelling speech.

The cumulative effect of these regulations is a Seattle that is becoming increasingly inhospitable to the businesses and consumers that live there.

One small businessman told the Seattle City council just as much when it passed its soda tax back in June, saying "for the last four to five years, something new is coming every time, and its cutting our bottom line. Not only is it cutting our bottom line, we are decreasing our payroll, we are letting people go. We are giving people part time jobs, not the full time. The way things are happening, we will have to stand in our stores 24-hours."

This feeling is not limited to small business. Even some of the city's corporate titans are considering an exit. Boeing shifted hundreds of jobs out of the Puget Sound region in June. Amazon announced last week that it was looking to set up another "equal" headquarters outside of Seattle.

This latest straw ban won't break the camel's back, but it will be one more costly restriction on the people who live there. Should the steady stream of regulations keep up, many who currently call the Seattle home may look to follow Amazon to greener pastures.

NEXT: Forget the Violent Campus Protests—This College Cop Is Gunning for Unlicensed Hot Dog Vendors

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Yes you would.

  1. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that straws are drinking implements for children, not adults.

    1. And those germ-averse who don’t trust dish washing staff.

      1. That’s why I prefer beer out of a bottle.

        1. What about wine? Out of the bottle too? Or in a wine glass with a straw?

          1. I drink wine out of the bottle, but I am also very honest about my addictions.

          2. Can’t drink wine. Too acidic.

      2. If you don’t mind drinking a beverage like a child in public.

        1. Or if you have a cup that has a flimsy lid. I prefer real glasses myself, but when you have to get moving, you need a lid, and take-away lids require straws.

      3. But do trust some guy in a factory somewhere in Bangladesh to wash his hands while packaging the straws.

        1. Everyone knows that germs can’t survive trans-longitudinal transit.

      4. And women with too much makeup.

    2. See? That’s the loathsome and odious attitude right there. Take this opportunity to stfu.

      1. I realize nobody asked, but I don’t make the rules.

    3. All due respect, but the next time you offer to share your drink with me, I’d like a straw.

    4. So why does Seattle hate children?

      1. Probably because they’re annoying.

        1. Pot, meet the kettle.

    5. I too like to insert dirty objects into my mouth, Tony.

      1. Every day, Crusty sucks on old pennies as training.

    6. Being a man means being unafraid to use a crazy straw in public. It means being unafraid of thugs such as yourself, Tony.

    7. But in Tony’s case, straws are for building arguments no one has raised, the better to be knocked down.

      1. Strawmen would be way cooler if they were made of bendy-straws.

    8. Straws are for children and those filthy immigrants, who suck up their drinks from their big gulp cups in Mcdonalds and 7-eleven.

      The classy white liberals in Seattle don’t use straws. They actually drink tea with hamburgers and scoop up boba with a shiny silver teaspoon. They be all like “oh blimey, I got some earl grey on my monocles”.

      I wish I had Tony’s courage to walk up to an elderly Vietnamese women drinking boba with a tube straw and say “That shit’s for kids you fucka”

    9. so when you get a cup with a lid you are not supposed to get a straw?

      I guess you are supposed to constantly remove and replace the lid every time you need a sip?

      Don’t be stupid.

    10. If you are elderly, in a nursing home, on in a bed in the hospital, you get a cup with a straw because that is the easiest and neatest way to drink from a cup. I wonder whether Seattle exempted these people from this ban. Will they be able to get a straw if they go out to eat? My mother needed a straw when I took her out for a meal. She would have made a real mess if she had tried to drink directly from the cup. And I don’t know if they make the paper ones with the accordian bends in the middle.

      Why do progressives need to micromanage every sort of behavior that they find disagreeable or can see creating some sort of harm? This is starting to get really tiresome. It is as if they have no other purpose in life other that to find things that they think are wrong, and pass laws against them.

    1. The paper straws must only be made from manually harvested organic deadfall.

      1. And starve out the decomposers?

        You must be mad. The straws are made from 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper.

  2. Why do these people hate trees?

  3. ?co-founded by Entourage star Adrian Grenier

    Oh geez, not this fuckin’ guy.

    1. Hey – you think his “talent” is gonna keep him in the headlines?

      1. I’m thrilled he has his life so perfect that he can live others’ lives for them.

  4. The level of celebrity and corporate support for this latest local progressive policy is uncommon. The lack of concern for people’s pocket books and individual liberties is not.

    The left is solidly anti-working class. We’ve established that. Let’s quit acting surprised.

    1. Except they complain about the loss of manufacturing job.s Conflicted, they are.

      1. They have to keep a working class if they want to continue hating them.

      2. While being singularly responsible for killing those dirty jobs.

  5. I just had a tooth pulled a half hour ago and my dentist told me not to drink out of a straw. I didn’t know he was an sjw.

  6. Alt text: Tastes super-progressive!

  7. “Seattle is a super-progressive city, and we had a lot of support for phasing some of these things out,” SPU spokesperson Becca Fong told the Seattle Times.

    They just live in delusion in Seattle. These are socialist policies that push banning products.

    I predict Seattle will be another Detroit in less than 30 years. Socialist policies will drive out the middle class and rich people with jobs, Seattle’s old homes will be abandoned when the next housing bubble bursts, and the suburbs surrounding Seattle are already growing faster than Seattle.

    1. I predict Seattle will be another Detroit in less than 30 years

      Nah, we have too much natural splendor which will keep people here. The only reason people lived in Detroit was to work. Once you lose the work, people look around and ask themselves, “Why the fuck am I living here?”

      Seattle came close to being Detroit back in the 70s, but even then, it never got as bad as Detroit.

    2. We will see. As of right now the actual state of Washington seems not quite as kooky as Seattle. And once one gets out of King county it seems like the state is not particularly progressive at all (This is my hot take, feel free to find evidence for yourself.)

      My only hope is that the rest of the state can just let Seattle be itself, and largely ignore it’s hostile actions. Though, the town I moved to bans plastic bags as well. So who knows. I do know that if the state adds an income tax I will probably just move. I already pay 40% in taxes, if I have to pay more I’ll just return to my beloved AZ.

      1. And once one gets out of King county it seems like the state is not particularly progressive at all

        Even “King County” as a whole isn’t anywhere near as progressive as Seattle. King County has a pretty good rural population who’ve been killed by the King County Council which is largely Seattle-centric. Eastern Washington went Trump, much to the horror and shock of Seattle’s NPR tote-bag crowd. It’s just that Seattle commands a huge, disproportionate amount of power. As the old political saying goes– if you carry what you can see from the top of the Space Needle, you carry the state.

        1. It’s interesting to see how much of this is out-of-towners versus natives as well. What’s your take on that?

          I know out in Issaquah there is a very clear and sharp divide between tech workers (such as myself) coming in and ruining everything and the old people who have been here forever. Has Seattle worsened by the influx of new people, or is this similar politics as usual with Seattle, just with perhaps more money than ever.

          1. *shrug*

            Using correlation-is-causation, I could easily say that dirty foreign white kids ruined Seattle, because Seattle rise of looney-bin progressivism rose steadily with the influx of out-of-town tech workers.

            I mean, there probably is a pretty good influence that young, college educated Millennials are going to have on the political outlook.

            The government of Seattle itself has been increasingly put in the hands of hyper-partisan, hard, left wing activists with no real experience in the private sector. they started their careers screaming in city council meetings, now they’re just on the opposite side of the podium.

            Was this a result of the influx of new people? It’s hard to say. I’m not a native myself– although I’ve lived here longer than some of these whippersnappers have been alive so I’ve had a long time to watch this city transform itself.

            1. You’re Paul Allen aren’t you?

    3. Socialist policies will drive out the middle class and rich people with jobs

      You might think so, but New York, San Francisco, LA and plenty of other cities serve as counterexamples. As Paul points out, cities that have more than one thing going for them can maintain their attractiveness despite many years of stupid governance.

      1. It will be interesting to see what happens. My generation seems unusually drawn towards cities. Though, the few people I know in NY already seem to be getting a bit tired of it. All anecdotal of course.

      2. Most people don’t have the money or connections to move anywhere. And immigrants in LA won’t leave their ethnic enclaves and move to some random white town in Minnesota or Idaho.

        Still, California shed more people (mostly poor) to other states than it received. The state is the spiritual birthplace of the Uber movement and has lots of attractions for people who should have no business spending money on places like Disneyland.

    4. “Seattle is a super-progressive city, and we had a lot of support for phasing some of these things out.”

      Things like running your business the way you see fit, for example. Can’t have that sort of thing.

  8. Amazon announced last week that it was looking to set up another “equal” headquarters outside of Seattle.

    Once Amazon fully moves, we can all sit and watch as Seattle drifts out to the ocean, and sinks into the north sea.

    1. You should see the hand-wringing and consternation in the local media over Amazon sniffing around for a co-headquarters. They poke at the corporate types with sticks and then as soon as they make a noise about leaving, it’s all fainting couches and vapors.

      1. Amazon’s announcement that it will build a second headquarters elsewhere to mirror its massive Seattle campus was as explosively unexpected as Boeing’s announcement in March 2001 that it would move its headquarters.

        I can’t even imagine why Amazon isn’t willing to just get infinitely taxed with no particular return except traffic.

    2. I’ve thought Amazon should just move someplace where a former-tech company has pretty much abandoned, Such as Kingston or Poughkeepsie NY. And they’re *just* far enough away from the progressivist cesspool of NYC to not be (much) corrupted by it. Then again, seeing how the Ulster County Executive and his corrupt board are all set to tear up a functioning tourist railroad to build a bike trail no one will use (except progressive out-of-towners likle Mark Zukerberg), maybe even Kingston is corrupt already.

  9. Why the hell do Seattle voters vote for these turkeys? I can understand the minimum wage shit, because most voters are economically ignorant to the point of being dangerous, but that doesn’t explain soda ban, bag ban, and the straw ban.

    I mean, it’s a fucking ban on straws!!!! I would never in a million years have guessed this to be the next thing on the progressive hit list. Sheesh.

    1. Saves the planet. Really. You could suck the atmosphere clean out of ozone with enough of these things.

    2. Progressives are like the Spanish Inquisition.

      1. you never expect it?

    3. Who even knows when the city council elections are? I thought I heard ours were moving to mayoral appointees, at least for some of the positions.

  10. Maybe this is some fifth-column effort to raise restaurant profits by not being allowed to give away free — free! — products. This will make up for the increased minimum wage.

  11. Beyond the paper straws, are they going to hand out paper utensils when customers get a to go order? Chopsticks? Only super progressive finger foods?

    1. I don’t know if you’re joking or not, but yes.

  12. Build the Wall .. around Seattle!

    1. Escape From Seattle.

      Aged Snake Plisken comes out of retirement to rescue the President’s third cousin once removed whose airplane crashed into the walled Seattle Progressive Reservation.

  13. at least we somewhat decriminalized weed and won an mls cup…
    seriously, it’s tough being a libertarian here. even tougher when I venture into what was once a pretty cool city.

    1. it’s tough being a libertarian here. even tougher when I venture into what was once a pretty cool city.

      Yeah, to think I had considered it as a place to move to (away from NY State). It was WAY cooler in the early ’70’s; what I’ve been reading of Seattle as of late I think they’ve been snorting too much of the burnt and overpriced StarSucks coffee and have burnt out their brains.

  14. There’s no issue so inane that Seattle doesn’t have an official position on it.

  15. The Good news is, someone out there is now working on a cheaper paper straw. Somewhere.

  16. To me, the upside is that the very same people are making the city unaffordable to live in, effectively creating a caste system straight out of The Hunger Games. So when they’ve removed all the middle class folk and their filthy straws, leaving only a slave class to support the elites, they can prance around congratulating themselves at how evolved they are, unmolested.

  17. I’d bet all the money in the world that the manufacturing of paper straws is not as green as plastic.

  18. The Democratic Peoples Republic of Seattle.

    “Is that a straw in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?”…

  19. Anyone supporting this regulation is making a straw ban argument.

    1. Dammit, this is what I get for showing up last.

  20. I sense a straw man argument.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.