Things We Should Ban Instead of Plastic Straws, According to New Yorkers

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Like The Mets, and cilantro in guac, plastic straws are divisive in New York City. The plastic straw is obviously the invention of wicked, sea turtle-hating, environmental saboteurs. But it’s also familiar, reliable, and mighty convenient. And the proposed ban on #sucking can, at times, seem like misdirected energy in the grand scheme of globe-saving projects. Fracking? Deforestation? Ocean Acidification? Come on. You mean to tell us our tiki-drink delivery vehicle is worse than all that?

To be frank, we once loved plastic straws. But we’re no soulless turtle terrorists, so we’re willing to give ‘em up and adjust -- begrudgingly -- to a world of adult sippy cups. And, as we prepare to do so, we can’t help but wonder what other items should have been banned long before plastic straws were declared public enemy number one. So we asked New Yorkers (and one tourist) from all over the city what they would eradicate from NYC if given the chance. Here’s what they had to say:

Plastic Bags
Plastic Bags | Kristi Blokhin/

Ella Kim, 51, Small Business Administration Lawyer, Greenwich Village

“I’m not sure why so many other cities have banned plastic bags, and we can’t get on board. My family in Chicago or SF -- they bring bags with them every time they go to the grocery store. It’s like second nature. Here, I do every once in a while for big grocery shops -- but not if I’m running to the corner store or the pharmacy. If we got rid of bags, people would make a habit of bringing their own so quickly! It's worked everywhere else! And who doesn’t have a billion tote bags stuffed in a cabinet somewhere at home?”

Katie Rapheal, 23, Art Student, Windsor Terrace

“I know this makes me an asshole but I seriously love straws. Doesn’t this all have to do with the turtles getting the straws in their noses? Can’t we just dispose of them better? Cut them up or something? It is about the turtles, right? What we need to get rid of are those stupid plastic stirring sticks. Like you can definitely do that job with your straw.

I just can’t do this whole sippy cup thing. Make paper lids. We don’t need those to be made out of plastic! I’d rather have a straw than a lid! If you’re wearing lipstick, it’s everywhere, and if the lid slips, it’s a disaster. Straws have never let me down. I know that’s bad to say.”

Paper Menus
Paper Menus | Flickr/Kat Northern Lights Man

Daniel Genis, 81, Retired German Professor, Tourist, Marblehead, MA

“For me, it’s always the paper Chinese food menus. I don’t know if those are really so bad as straws but I get so many. And I really try to keep them all -- I put them in a binder! But they give me so many, and I live alone, so I don’t need 7 of the same one! I think we could certainly lose those before the straws.”

Patrick Mangiaforte, 29, Barista, Crown Heights

“I wish there wasn’t someone shoving a copy of Time Out New York at me every time I got off the subway. That’s gotta be killing some jungle creatures somewhere.”

Styrofoam Containers
Styrofoam Containers | Koppa14/

Ali Feroze,  32, Deli Counter Cashier, Bed Stuy

“In this neighborhood, people are still gonna be asking for plastic straws all the time, even if they ban them. They’re not reading the news. It would be easier to take away the styrofoam containers we use for Halal or burritos. People are gonna eat out of whatever, as long as they could still use a fork and it still tastes good. You always gotta give a straw with a can of soda. That’s just how you do it.”

Kylie Gilbert, 25, Public Relations Account Executive, East Village

“There is nothing I hate more than ordering a cocktail, and having it arrive with a paper straw. Then it’s like the race to the end of the drink before your straw disintegrates -- so you chug your cocktail. Then you’re either drunk, or you have to pay 15 bucks for another one. I guess stop giving so many napkins [instead] -- or paper coasters! I could care less about the paper coaster! Nobody wants to take that home, so it does not need to be disposable”

Paper Receipts
Paper Receipts | Shutterstock/Sheila Fitzgerald

Jerry Korman, 61, Commercial Composer, Upper West Side

“If we’re paying all of our bills with cards, and all the coffee shops and salad places have those iPads that you sign, why do we still get receipts everywhere we go? Does anyone use them or save them? I throw them out first thing. That has to be a huge waste of paper. I have no idea why we didn’t cut those out years ago? They just end up crumpled in your pockets, and it’s annoying.”

Katherine Ryan, 22, Student, Crown Heights

“Facial products with microbeads. Umm, plastic that florists wrap around their flowers. Oh, and strollers. There are so many strollers in the States that are made out of unnecessary amounts of plastic. There’s a company in Europe called Greentom that is actually focusing on building strollers that are made out of recycled materials.”

Norman Tummings, 58, Landlord, Fort Greene

“What we need is for car services to stop making those cards. People never take car services, but everywhere you look, you got these cards telling you who to call! It’s crazy! You go to a deli and they got like ten stacks of them and they covered with dust cuz nobody's taking ‘em”

Hello Fresh
Meal Delivery Services | Hello Fresh

Emily Dinowitz, 23, Clinton Hill, Public Relations

“We should 100% be banning meal delivery services -- or making the rules so much more stringent. People get so many delivered and they have freezer bags and ice packs, then individual single-use bottles of olive oil, and ziplocks with a single serving of a spice, or like, one clove of garlic. Each package alone is probably worth tons of straws. So yeah, I think we get rid of those completely, or we totally change the laws around them.”

Davis Herron, 33, Restaurant Manager, Prospect Heights

“I think the big thing is, a lot of restaurants and stores are using compostable stuff but it’s not being composted. Also, walk around here and try to find a recycling bin. That’s my answer. Better recycling and composting, not banning items.”

Lara Trevino, 31, Nurse Practitioner, Upper West Side

“Plastic bags should be banned just because they are hard to dispose of and other major cities like San Francisco have had them banned for a long time.”

Disposable Metrocards
Disposable Metrocards | Shutterstock/Ben Harding

Anika Huber, 43, Accountant, Prospect Heights

“They should ban MetroCards. They sometimes bend in a way that makes them impossible to use. So I have two or three, just in this backpack. I guess that ban is already happening, though.”

Laura Conners, 37, Hair Stylist, West Village

“We should ban all straight white men. Unless they want to cook and clean. Then they can stay. Also, purebred dogs.”

Gregory Elfers, 45, Physician’s Assistant, Upper West Side

“Oh boy. Plastic bags. I mean, come on, plastic bags! I buy a razor, like the size of a pen, and it’s ‘do you need a bag for that?’ Meanwhile I’m carrying a huge, basically empty backpack. So maybe just charge people [for the bags], or ask first.”

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Eliza and Ruby are actually sea turtles.