Tags: shelby oneil | plastic | straws | girl scout

Shelby O'Neil Targets Plastic Straws in Girl Scout Project

Shelby O'Neil Targets Plastic Straws in Girl Scout Project

Companies sat up and took notice when teen Shelby O'Neil contacted them with a request to reduce their use of plastic straws. (Ittipon/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Monday, 25 June 2018 11:59 AM

Shelby O'Neil is leading the fight against plastic straws and other ocean plastic pollutants, and she is just 17 years old.

Growing up in San Juan Bautista, a small seaside town in California, the teen learned about the effect plastic pollution can have on marine life, The Washington Post noted.

O'Neil decided to focus her Girl Scout Award project on waging war against harmful plastics.

Her first step was to establish Jr Ocean Guardians, an organization that spreads awareness on plastic pollution.

Her second step was to reach out to major corporations in an attempt to get them to reduce their use of plastic utensils.

In letters addressed to several companies including Dignity Health, Farmer Brothers coffee and Alaska Airlines, she highlighted the dangers posed by these plastic pollutants.

"Did you know that straws are one of the top ocean polluters?" O'Neil wrote to Dignity Health concerning the company's use of a plastic straw to blow out a candle in its "Human Kindness" ad, according to the Post. "Scientists are predicting by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if we don’t start making drastic changes with our plastic pollution. I’m urging you to stop using this specific commercial."

To her surprise, all three companies responded to her pleas and agreed to take a more environmentally considerate stance.

Since receiving her letter, Dignity Health has halved its use of plastic straws, stirrers and cup lids from 8 million to 4 million per year while Alaska Airlines, which used 22 million plastic stir straws and citrus picks last year, plans to swap these for biodegradable materials instead, the Post said.

Farmer Brothers said it would be replacing its plastic stirrers with wooden ones.

These companies are following in the steps of larger chains which are also reconsidering their environmental footprint.

Facing pressure from environmentalists, McDonald's has been testing plastic straw alternatives in the U.K., and now it plans to bring these ideas to select locations in the U.S. later this year.

Bon Appétit is also banning plastic straws and stirrers at more than 1,000 cafes and restaurants the food-service management company runs.

Speaking about this to the Monterey County Weekly, O'Neil said that people did not often use straws for every drink consumed within their own homes, so why would they need it at a sit-down restaurant, or with fast food.

"That one plastic straw they use is potentially going to outlive them," she pointed out. "I am trying to get people to understand that the little things can make the biggest impact, and a lot of people don’t know that. I’m trying to educate and inspire people."

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Shelby O'Neil, a 17-year-old Girl Scout, is drawing attention for her efforts to combat plastic straws and other ocean pollutants.
shelby oneil, plastic, straws, girl scout
446
2018-59-25
Monday, 25 June 2018 11:59 AM
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