A Video Of An Injured Turtle Left Me Speechless. Then I Found My Voice.

Young people are the future, and that future is being threatened by plastic pollution.

A Video Of An Injured Turtle Left Me Speechless. Then I Found My Voice.

When I first saw the viral video of a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nostril and throat, I was speechless. I had known that plastic waste was a problem, but never so deeply understood the harm it causes to those around us.

As a young person, I've grown up around messages that I'm just a kid, and not capable of much. But when I joined students in my school environmental club to start a petition to eliminate the unnecessary use of plastic straws in our county, I was reminded of the power we had. 

Young people are the future, and that future is being threatened by plastic pollution. I'm working to bring more youth into this growing movement.

Since Starbucks' announced plans to do away with plastic straws by 2020, restaurants and cities nationwide are asking themselves if they should follow suit and eliminate plastic straws, or even consider redesigning some of their products to be less wasteful. 

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We need the restaurant industry to do its part in controlling the plastic waste that plagues our oceans – that's why I launched my second petition, this time asking Subway Restaurants to ditch plastic straws. 

Subway, which has 10,000 international restaurants and is ranked third on the list of the Top 10 Global Fast-Food Chains by Forbes, has built a reputation for being environmentally conscious. Subway's efforts have included the use of recyclable plastic cutlery and paper napkins made of 100 percent recycled material, the transition from plastic menu cards to recyclable paper cards, and the introduction of 95 percent post-consumer recycled plastic salad bowls and lids, which will keep 2.62 million pounds of plastic out of their waste stream. It's clear that Subway prides itself on being an environmental steward in the restaurant industry ―  but why haven't they taken action to reduce the waste produced by plastic straws, one of the most prevalent plastics found in our oceans?

Since its launch, my petition has garnered over 140,000 signatures and acquired international support from passionate citizens and activists that have shared with me their own concerns about plastic straws and their lasting impact, and why they believe Subway should be the next restaurant to step up and help curb plastic waste. 

If Subway chooses not to act, young people will take note. We are the ones who will inherit the earth as she continues to heat, the oceans filling every day with more plastic, the skies clogged with pollution. This is unacceptable, and will vote with our dollars and our feet against corporations who won't react to protect us from this fate. The time to act is now: if we are to preserve our time on this planet, we must move in stride with the Earth, and not against it.

Cover image via Change.org.

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