When you first learn about Milo Cress, the 10-year-old on a mission to rid us of plastic straws, your reaction might be, Really? Now we can’t even enjoy a straw guilt-free? Or maybe it’s, Really? With all the waste on the planet, this kid’s got to pick straws? But consider this fact:
Each day we use 500 million straws—enough disposable straws (over 182 billion) to fill more than 46,400 large school buses each year.
And let’s face it, plastic straws certainly aren’t a necessity most of the time. Many people don’t even use the straws they are automatically given when they order a drink.
So let’s hand it to this motivated youngster for bringing attention to our little straw habit. Truly, who better to deliver the message about the waste that our straws create than the ultimate straw consumer—a 10-year-old kid?
Milo’s strategy for reducing straw use begins with people signing his Pledge to Be Straw Free. http://www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree/pledge?view=ckforms&id=7
His efforts are not just drawing attention to the straw waste issue but are bringing about real change as well. Last year the National Restaurant Association formally recognized Milo’s “offer first” suggestion as a best practice for restaurants nationwide. He has been interviewed on Fox News and CNN.
Milo sees straws as an extravagance (except, of course, for the individuals who need them for medical reasons). “I encourage people who don’t need a straw to order their drinks without one, because we use way more straws than we need,” he says. “Also, we use a straw for about 15 minutes and then the straw sits in the landfill, or as litter on the ground or in our oceans, for years and years and years—some scientists say hundreds or thousands of years.”
Milo feels it’s his responsibility to be a steward to the earth. “This planet is not a place that kids will inherit at some point far off in the distant future—we live here right now. It is our planet right now to play on and to help take care of. But I also do lots of fun things! I play tennis, saxophone, baseball, and I love science. I want to be an inventor.”
The campaign’s success reflects the power that children do possess when they take action. “At first I thought that probably no one would listen to me because I’m a kid, but now I know that people do listen to kids and care about what we have to say. It’s good to feel like I can make a difference.”
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Currently, Milo is working with a paper straw company to replace the plastic straws attached to disposable drink boxes with paper ones. This would allow the entire box to be recycled, preventing millions of plastic straws from going to the landfill every day.