Tofino, Ucluelet First in B.C. to Ban Plastic Straws!

Tofino, B.C.

Tofino, B.C.

Today, SeaLuxe applauds councils in Tofino and Ucluelet for adopting bylaws that prohibit businesses in either town from providing plastic bags and/or straws to customers.

If you’ve ever been to the western coast of Vancouver Island, you’re aware of its tremendous beauty. It’s a powerfully gorgeous part of the world right on the edge of the wild Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Rim chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to protect the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches through their activist network, played a big part of raising awareness of the damage these plastics cause.

“Tofino and Ucluelet are the first municipalities to ban plastic straws in B.C., and we can be certain that this is opening up a pathway for other B.C. communities to follow suit,” Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury told the Haida Gwaii Observer.

It’s a great show of leading by example as Tofino and Ucluelet see thousands of visitors from other parts of the world every year.

“It’s going to create incredible awareness around the pollution that single-use plastics cause, from summer employees to the massive influx of tourists who will visit businesses and learn about the bans. As we know, the issues extend far behind bags and straws, but this crucial step will bring awareness to the consumption and management of all other single-use plastics and plastic products more generally.”

Many businesses in the area have already stopped supplying plastic bags and straws, thanks to the efforts of Surfrider Pacific Rim.  The bylaw comes into effect on Saturday, June 8th which is also World Oceans Day. Compliance will be voluntary at first, with enforcement and fines coming January 1st, 2020.

The wild land of Tofino, B.C.

The wild land of Tofino, B.C.

Vancouver was poised to be the first in B.C. to ban straws, Styrofoam and other single-use items. The ban was supposed to take effect last Saturday, June 1st. City council, however, decided to postpone the ban until April 2020 to allow the industry more time to get on board.

Ian Tostenson, the CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Association, said one of the issues is the cost to businesses of switching to more expensive biodegradable items. A biodegradable clamshell take-out container, for example, costs about 20 cents more than a Styrofoam container he told the CBC.

One of the biggest offenders is bubble tea shops. According to Tostenson, they haven’t figured out a straw that works for bubble tea. (Cough - grass straws - cough.)

Interestingly, however, food truck operators such as Melt City Grilled Cheese Food Truck had enough foresight to start out by using products that are biodegradable and compostable.

Other cities, including Victoria, have already banned single-use plastic bags but Tofino and Ucluelet will become the first in B.C. to do away with plastic straws.

Like we needed even more reason to love these west coast towns!