After voting on July 19 to ban plastic straws and stirrers in Islamorada via an ordinance, the Village Council decided Aug. 9 to take a second look and consider a resolution instead.
There was no official action on the straw rule, which would have involved slapping violators with a $250 fine.
A handful of community members told the council to look at the situation with a broader scope and urged them to consider banning Styrofoam and plastic bags as well.
An ordinance is a law, while a resolution is a form of expression of the opinion or will of a municipality.
“We have a balloon rule, which is hard to enforce. Rather than creating more laws we can’t enforce, making a resolution gives us the ability to ask businesses to participate and encourage them,” said Mayor Chris Sante.
Other Florida cities have enacted bans on straws, including Miami Beach, Surfside, St. Petersburg and Marco Island.
Councilman Jim Mooney said it’s a worldwide issue.
“I didn’t invent it and we’re not going to end it. The plastic straw was the lowest-hanging fruit. Banning plastic bags is wonderful in theory, but hell will probably freeze over before that happens,” he said, adding that education of the dangers of plastic to sea life through social media is a good idea.
“We all know about the turtle with the straw in his nose. That was gross, so we know how it happened,” he said. “When I go to a bar now, I say I don’t want a straw. Shake it like the old days, like my parents did. Makes a better drink anyway.”
Council members said seeing the community come out to talk about the straw ban was encouraging.
“I’m not that hellbent on making this go through and fighting to the very end, but I’m just glad the awareness is out there,” said Councilman Mike Forster, who owns the restaurant Mangrove Mike’s.
He said his restaurant is 98 percent eco friendly now, and wasn’t six months ago.
“What you see in my restaurant is not plastic – it’s compostable. I got rid of all the plastic I have in my restaurant,” he said.
The council agreed unanimously to table the ordinance until further notice.
According to village attorney Roget Bryan, 40 countries have banned the use of plastic bags, making their use an arrestable crime.