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Preschool starts “Skip the Straw” campaign

Starbucks and Seattle are going strawless for the environment, and one local preschool is hoping to spread that message to area restaurants.

The coffee company announced on Monday it would be eliminating plastic straws from all its stores by 2020. A ban of the plastic stalls also went into effect city-wide in Seattle, last week.

Locally, Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo announced they’d go strawless through July. Plastic Free July, a non-profit, said straws are rarely recycled.

Environmentalists claim straws are one of the biggest polluters of the ocean and that, once they get in the ocean, they’re hard to break down. Recently, a video went viral of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose.

It’s a growing movement of businesses and people opting for paper or metal straws. "Skipping the straw" is a sentiment starting to build in Iowa City, with the help of some young activists.

Students at Preucil Preschool are showing that you’re never too young to have a voice, after creating a #StrawlessIC campaign.

"It’s where we save animals from straws. They’re getting into the grass, dirt, ocean, ponds," 4-year-old student, Jacob, said. "And animals are eating it and they’re getting real hurt, so we’re trying to get people to not use those straws."

Preucil Director, Tricia Windschitl, said it all started with a class art project.

"We were asked to listen to the earth and think about what elements would say," she said.

One of the students created a piece of art based on the ocean. On it, it said, "please don’t put straws in me, baby sea turtles are trying to grow here."

Windschitl said that started a snowball effect in the classroom and more students were making posters depicting anti-straw use. 

"Those were going up all over our room. That spring-boarded this idea that we wanted to do something to cut down on the straws," she said.

On Thursday, a group of the students went restaurant to restaurant asking them to "skip the straw".

"We gave the restaurants posters and told them about about our strawless initiative," 5-year-old Victoria said.

A "Skip the Straw" sticker greets customers walking into St. Burch Tavern, one of the first restaurants to sign their pledge along with Pullman and both Big Grove locations.

"We had already make the conscious decision to cut down on our straw usage. Both staffs are very environmentally aware of our footprint we could have and with straws, it’s one of those convenient things as a customer we don’t really need a straw, it’s just something we’ve always had," Cory Kent, owner of St. Burch Tavern and Pullman, said.

Kent said they still have straws on hand, but they don’t give them out unless a customer asks for one.

"We’re really trying to move into the spot where it becomes the norm where people are used to not having a straw," he said.

The Preucil students also met with Iowa City Mayor, Jim Throgmorton. According to Windschitl, the mayor will read a strawless proclamation, written by the students, at the next city council meeting.

"I think what is the really amazing thing is we have adults in the community listening to their young voices," she said.

Windschitl and the students recommend opting for metal or paper straws.



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