Palo Alto, CA – Did you know more than 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day in the United States? Many of these end up as litter or ocean pollution and Palo Alto Girl Scouts Troop 60016 has a campaign aimed to end that. The troop is asking Palo Alto residents, restaurants and other businesses to do their part to end the use of plastic drinking straws.
Palo Alto City Council is onboard too. The troop spoke to Palo Alto City Council on April 16 and Council agreed to pass a proclamation declaring the month of May “Drinking Straw Awareness month. The troop’s goal is to reduce plastic straw pollution and waste generated from the Palo Alto community. The members have a message for restaurants: “Stop using plastic straws, and make paper straws available only upon request.”
“Some restaurants think that they need to provide straws because kids want them. We are here to say that we would rather have clean oceans than a drinking straw to use for five minutes,” said troop member Sophia Howell.
Bay Area burger chain, The Counter, was the first business to sign on. Owner Peter Katz says, “With awareness comes responsibility. The Counter is glad we can make a difference and, in fact, have made straws available only upon request at all of our restaurants in the Bay Area. We are currently also evaluating paper straws and alternative straws for kids cups.”
As of April 23, restaurants participating in the Straw Awareness Month include:
- The Counter (all nine Bay Area locations)
- Dan Gordon’s
- Local Union 271
- Paxti’s Pizza
- Old Pro
- Kirk’s Steakburgers
Restaurants can sign up to join the effort at cityofpaloalto.org/ThisIsTheLastStraw. Troop 60016 and the City of Palo Alto will provide participating restaurants with educational posters, table tents and a 50% off coupon to try paper straws. The City of Palo Alto Public Works–Watershed Protection will advertise the businesses who pledge to end plastic straw use in May and June and have contracted with ReThink Disposables, to provide free consulting to businesses who want to do even more to reduce single-use plastic food ware.
Troop 60016, whose team consists of Palo Alto 5th grade Girl Scouts, their 7th grade co-leader, and Troop Leader Karen Fitzpatrick, chose plastic drinking straw awareness as the center of their community service project to earn their Bronze Award– the highest honor a Junior Scout can receive when they create a project that has lasting positive change in their community.
“I’m thankful that Junior Girl Scouts Troop 60016 has raised awareness in our entire community and is having a positive and significant impact on this issue,” said Katz.
For questions about the program, contact Karen Fitzpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit cityofpaloalto.org/ThisIsTheLastStraw.