Missy Layfield’s editorial on straws (Editorial “Straws vs. The Big Picture, Island Sand Paper, August 25, 2017) claims that any action that does not result in ridding the entire ocean of trash or results in a small inconvenience for some local businesses should not be undertaken. She is right that it would be better if local businesses took the initiative and that a “skip the straw” program is something that local businesses can undertake and will help offset the small additional expense of switching to biodegradable straws, but they haven’t happened.
The straw ordinance has been openly discussed in committee meetings, covered in the local television, and print media. Everyone has been encouraged to attend and voice their concerns and opinions. The Town Council and MRTF will be discussing trash at their next meetings. The public is encouraged to attend, comment, and be part of the conversation.
I do object to her claim that the ordinance is somehow anti-business and that it puts beach businesses at a competitive disadvantage to off island establishments. The beach is core to our business, it is why people come here. The beach is our greatest asset and the reason why businesses have most of their customers. It makes good business sense to protect that asset and make it as pleasant as possible for visitors. An Uber driver takes care of his car because it is important to his business. Beach businesses have a financial stake in keeping the beach clean.
The point shouldn’t be that we should expect our action on plastic straws to clean up the entire ocean, but rather, are our actions a force for a cleaner beach or a force for trash. There can be disagreement between business and residential interests on the island, but surely we can agree that trash on the beach is not in anyone’s interest. Except for maybe those crows.
Fort Myers Beach
Editor Note: Bill Veach is the Chair of the Marine Resources Task Force (MRTF) for the Town of Fort Myers Beach. MRTF recommended an ordinance banning plastic straws to Town Council.