To the Editor:
I wanted to update you of the work my 4th grade students are doing to help our environment and to save marine animals’ lives. As reported in the April 5 issue of the Swarthmorean, these Wallingford Elementary students began an initiative to limit the damage single-use plastic straws are doing to our environment by reaching out to restaurants and encouraging them to distribute straws on a “request only” basis. Mr. Litt, president of Ruby’s Diner in Glen Mills, listened to my students and changed the restaurant’s straw policy immediately. He informed us that the restaurant is using thousands of fewer straws each week. Local restaurants, including Iron Hill and Pinocchio’s, had previously adopted this policy.
We also reached out to Representative Leanne Krueger in the hopes of making this a Pennsylvania law. We learned that there is already a bill — House Bill 1176 — to have restaurants distribute straws upon request. It has stalled in committee; evidently, the plastic industry has some powerful lobbyists. The children and I agreed that, while the lawmakers are trying to figure this out, we’ll just keep plugging along and making positive change. We are hopeful that, at the very least, Pennsylvania will declare a statewide Skip-the-Straw Day. Representative Krueger is working on that now.
My students and I would appreciate your readers’ support in this initiative. That support could look many different ways — from making a commitment to eliminate the use single-use plastic straws; to talking with restaurants about changing their policies; to writing letters to support H.B. 1176. My students are not done yet, and they are already busy trying to limit the use of plastic bags, too. We hope your readers will join us in this quest to help our environment.
Susan Knight, 4th grade teacher
Wallingford Elementary School