Greener BeeGreen LivingLiving Green: Another sip on straws

Last week’s column on plastic straws stirred up quite a bit of attention on social media, which is fabulous. It’s great that the word is getting out there about this issue.

The Last Plastic Straw founder Jackie Nunez asked me via email to expand on and clarify a few things, though.

“First and foremost, I am for straws upon request wherever they are served and no matter what they are made of (less needless waste),” she wrote. “I am all for a plastic straw ban in the form of an amendment to the existing polystyrene ban, as modeled in Manhattan Beach.

“We live above the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, which is so rich in biodiversity that scientists call it the ‘Serengeti of the Sea.’ In aquariums and zoos, and now even water parks worldwide, plastic straws are banned because, and I quote: ‘harm to animals,’ and harm to the equipment (filters, etc.)

“We have no one maintaining a ‘pool’ or manmade environment to keep single-use plastic from clogging storm drains, flowing into our bay, and ingestion and entanglement to the animals.

“I feel it should be the price of doing business, and that we as a community have a responsibility to protect our bay and educate our visitors with better practices by not providing single-use plastic items to be used once and discarded.”

Also, I slipped in the wrong statistic about plastic straws wrapping around the Earth. The daily use of discarded plastic straws in the United States — 500 million — is enough to wrap around the circumference of the earth 2.5 times, not nine.

More from HERO

Here’s some good news out of the Salinas Valley. The city councils of King City and Greenfield have voted to make the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program available to residents, which enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficiency improvements and pay for them over time through their property tax bills.

Greenfield and King City residents may begin submitting applications to HERO this spring.

The cities have joined seven other municipalities in Monterey County in offering this innovative financing program. The cities of Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas and Seaside, as well as Monterey County for residents of unincorporated areas, all launched HERO over the past year and a half by passing resolutions to make the program available to homeowners.

Not only does HERO help homeowners use water and energy more efficiently, it is also stimulating demand for local contractors’ services, which in turn benefits cities and counties through economic stimulus and local job growth, while at the same time helping communities reach state-imposed water and energy-saving goals.

More information is available at

Do you have questions or tips about sustainable living around the Central Coast? Send them to Kathryn McKenzie at

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