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Skip the Stuff in Suffolk County, NY

Skip the Stuff in Suffolk County, NY

Pass a Skip the Stuff Bill in Suffolk County

The Eastern Long Island and Central Long Island Chapters of the Surfrider Foundation are supporting Suffolk County Legislation Intro. Res. No. 1371-2024, also known as the “Skip the Stuff Bill”.

This bill, introduced by Legislators Englebright and Welker, would prohibit restaurants and food delivery services from providing plastic utensils, straws, condiments, or napkins with takeout and delivery food orders, unless the customer explicitly requests them. 

This bill will save restaurants money. Restaurants in the U.S. spend $24 billion per year on take-out foodware like utensils, bowls, cups, etc. Those costs increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as use of delivery apps and takeout orders more than doubled. Restaurants often include all these items by default, but in reality they are unnecessary for most customers who will enjoy their meal at home or at work. 

This bill will save taxpayer money. Suffolk County must use taxpayer funds to collect, transport, and dispose of these items. These items are often littered as well, leading to additional cleanup costs. 

This bill will reduce pollution and associated human health impacts. The production and disposal cycle of single use plastics produces pollution throughout, especially in underserved communities where the majority of plastic manufacturing and waste management infrastructure is located.  The Town of Brookhaven landfill in a few years and incinerators produce toxic ash and air pollution.

Littered plastic items add to the plastic pollution crisis; plastic particles have been found in drinking water, food, human bodies, and in practically every inch of the globe. This pollution poses significant health risks to humans.

Plastic food-related items are some of the most commonly littered. The proof is in the data. Eastern Long Island Chapter volunteers have collected data on 158 beach cleanups between 2019 and 2022. In just four years, our volunteers have saved 1,425 pieces of take-out “stuff” from our beaches: 687 plastic utensils, 335 plastic stirrers, 340 paper napkins and 63 wooden stirrers. Once in our waterways plastic can choke and harm wildlife. 

“Skip the Stuff” is not a ban, but a change in habit. The focus of “Skip the Stuff” is to create a new normal where customers don't expect to receive single-use plastic items with every order, often unwanted. The bill requires all 3rd party food delivery apps (like Seamless, etc) to let customers choose if they want napkins, condiments, or utensils with their order. Similarly, restaurants would be required to allow customers to choose whether they received all those extra items when ordering over the phone, in person, or through the restaurant's website, rather than receive them by default. 

We see this as a benefit for all: customers can still receive these items if they need them, restaurants and taxpayers save money, and our communities, environment, and human health will see a lot less plastic pollution.

The Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is leading the charge to pass this bill. They testified at a Suffolk County public meeting on 5/7/2024 and urged their supporters to call their elected officials.

Artist Credit: Instagram @calvert_ayers