Hear the battle cry of the Students for a Strawless Sandy Springs

 

Did you know that 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone? That’s 175 billion per year.  They go into landfills and litter our waterways and oceans. It takes 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose, and most cannot be recycled. Approximately 1 million seabirds and more than 100,000 marine animals die each year from ingesting plastic. When we learned this, we knew that we could not stand by and allow this to continue to happen – we wanted to make a change!  We, The Students for a Strawless Sandy Springs started at our school, Heards Ferry Elementary School.

We started by researching about plastic straw pollution. We created a presentation to share with the leadership at Heards Ferry. Our first goal was to eliminate plastic straws in our school. The school leadership was receptive to our idea and asked us to work with the school Chef and cafeteria staff to determine the cost and the feasibility of switching to paper straws. Unfortunately, the response was negative due to the cost, but we did not let that stop us! We decided to educate the student body about the negative impact of plastic straws, and as a result, students started speaking out against plastic straws and many (even first graders) stopped using straws altogether.

Following that success, we decided to visit local restaurants in Sandy Springs. We talked to over 20 restaurants up and down Roswell Road about getting rid of single-use plastic straws and replacing them with a compostable option. We went door to door to local restaurants to educate them about the dangers of plastic straws and asking them to pledge to decrease or eliminate them in their restaurants. There was overwhelming support for this cause!  Meehan’s and Marlow’s Tavern have already made the switch.

After multiple visits with restaurants and supportive conversations, we requested a meeting with Mayor Paul to discuss banning plastic straws in Sandy Springs completely! Our proposal was passed to our city attorney, in hopes that he would pass it on to city council for a vote. Unfortunately, we were not successful with this. However don’t be fooled, we didn’t stop there! After this, we got more signatures from local restaurants. We also created Instagram page (@takeaction2019), and continue to post about the cause.  We have hundreds of followers. In addition, the Sandy Springs Farmers Market allowed us to set up an education table.  We talked to local citizens and policy makers.  Again, the community was excited about the idea of Sandy Springs being Straw-less!  We sold metal straws and raised money for the Plastic Ocean Project (funds are cleaning up our beaches and oceans)! Our hope is to be able to come back to the mayor and city council with 500 signatures from citizens and restaurants owners!

After being shut down by various people, getting helpful constructive criticism, and hearing many supportive thoughts about this movement, we have learned so much and we are so grateful to the citizens and leadership of Sandy Springs. We believe that by informing people about this we can make a huge mark on our city and then hopefully everywhere else. Lots of people have heard about these dangers but it is our job as citizens of the world to try our best to help our planet because it’s the only one we have.