A 5-Year-Old Asked A Pizza Chain To Change Its Ways In A Handwritten Note. It Worked.

“It’s truly amazing and wonderful that somebody so young wrote to us with such a caring and compassionate message.”

If you eat at any of the nearly 500 locations of PizzaExpress — or, more specifically, if you drink at the restaurant chain — you might notice a change later this year. The company is phasing out its environmentally-unfriendly drinking straws, all thanks to an articulate 5-year-old advocate named Ava.

In January, the company posted to Facebook a scanned version of a letter Ava had sent them.

"I am writing because me and my brothers eat in PizzaExpress a lot," she began. "When I get my drink, it always has a plastic straw in it. I am writing to please ask you to stop plastic straws as they are very bad for animals. They can get stuck in their mouths and noses. Could you only use straws if people ask for them as I don't want any animals to get sick."

This young environmentalist has a point. Americans alone use 500 million straws daily, per the National Park Service, and they are rarely recycled. According to National Geographic, straws comprise only a small fraction of the 8 million tons of plastic that end up in the oceans each year, but they're especially dangerous to marine life. In 2015, for example, a viral video showed scientists removing a plastic straw from the nostril of a Costa Rican sea turtle.

Happily, Ava's letter helped PizzaExpress see the light. "We pride ourselves on listening to our customers, so when Ava, aged five, sent us a letter asking us to stop putting plastic straws in her drink because 'they are very bad for animals,' it spurred us to make a change," the company wrote in its Facebook post. "We are now phasing out single-use plastic straws from all our 470+ restaurants from this summer, and we'll be replacing them with biodegradable and recyclable paper versions." 

"For the record, Ava's letter is genuine and it's truly amazing and wonderful that somebody so young wrote to us with such a caring and compassionate message," the company added.

Adrian Grenier, star of Entourage and co-founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation, told National Geographic deciding not to use drinking straws is "a gateway, a way to start" in the fight against ocean plastic. 

"A lot of times people are overwhelmed by the bigness of the problem and often give up," he said. "We need something achievable for everyday humans. The challenge is if we can get rid of plastic straws, let's start there. Then we can move on from there."

If you're curious, a host of organizations can provide more information on the environmental impact of drinking straws — including One Less Straw, Straw Wars, Strawless Ocean, and The Last Plastic Straw.

Cover image via Shutterstock / Angelina Dimitrova.

(H/T: Good News Network.)

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