Two Freshmen Want You to Stop Using Straws

In the cafeteria during lunch you can find students eating out of plastic wrappers, drinking from disposable plastic water bottles, and eating their lunch packed plastic sandwich bags. Lakeside freshmen, sisters Leah and Sydney Shankman, recognized the negative impact of using large amount of plastic used in our community and decided to do something about it locally. “We were looking for an issue in the community for our [Girl Scout] silver award,” Sydney Shankman said. Soon the sisters started the campaign Don’t Be a Sucker in Tucker. “We’re inspired over the summer to start [our project] after we watched a video of a turtle have a straw pulled out of its nose.” The video “really moves your heartstrings and makes you want to do something about it.” said Leah.

In the cafeteria during lunch you can find students eating out of plastic wrappers, drinking from disposable plastic water bottles, and eating their lunch packed plastic sandwich bags. Lakeside freshmen, sisters Leah and Sydney Shankman, recognized the negative impact of using large amount of plastic used in our community and decided to do something about it locally. “We were looking for an issue in the community for our [Girl Scout] silver award,” Sydney Shankman said. Soon the sisters started the campaign Don’t Be a Sucker in Tucker. “We’re inspired over the summer to start [our project] after we watched a video of a turtle have a straw pulled out of its nose.” The video “really moves your heartstrings and makes you want to do something about it.” said Leah.

Sydney attended Tucker’s city hall meetings advocating for the reduction of disposable plastic, specifically straws, used in the city’s restaurants. “We choose to start with a focus on straws because that can have a big impact locally,” Sydney said. Local restaurants from the community, including downtown Tucker’s Local 7, have joined the movement. Kroger representative Luis Finley said, “I was very impressed with how much knowledge the [Shankmans] had on the straw issue… It’s a really good cause to get behind.”

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It’s the Final Countdown!: Kroger, which operates nearly 2,800 grocery stores under a variety of banner names like Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Ralphs and QFC, said it will phase out single-use plastic bags and move to reusable bags across all stores by 2025. For stores in Georgia, “we don’t have a definite timeline” for when exactly the change will take place, said Felix Turner, a local Kroger spokesman.

Photo by: Ryan Wilson

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Apart from the Shankmans and Local 7, other major companies began to recognizing and reducing extreme plastic usage. The Kroger Company, the country’s largest general retailer after

Walmart, announced in August that they plan to stop using plastic bags at all of the stores by 2025. The CEO, Rodney McMullen, released a statement saying that said that the decision “was a bold move that will better protect our planet.” Starbucks published a statement stating that they will eliminate plastic straws Globally by 2020. Hilton Hotels also said it will remove straws from the 650 properties it manages by the end of 2018. Hilton estimates the decision will eliminate more than 35 million straws each year.

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Making a Change One Straw at a Time This sign, located in a booth in the Local 7, is apart of the Don’t Be a Sucker in Tucker project telling customers why they originally didn’t receive straws Co-owner Luis Finley “We even made are commitment to [the project] a day before Starbucks!”

Photo by: Ryan Wilson

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According to EcoWatch, the average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year, most of which is thrown away after one use. Ten percent of the total waste Americans generate comes from plastic. Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century and only recycled 9 percent of our plastic trash. “At first I didn’t believe you could use so much plastic in a day, “ said freshman Bianca James, “but after thinking about all the ziploc bags that I use and throw away with my lunch every day I guess it makes sense why Americans use so much [plastic].”

Many people have a hard time initially when reducing the amount of plastic that they use. Lakeside Senior Tamera Davis said, “it’s frustrating because I want to reduce the plastic that I use but sometimes it's my only option!” If you want to help reduce your plastic use, you don’t have to completely cut it out of your life. Using a reusable water bottle instead of plastic one is a great way to start. You can use paper folders instead of plastics for your classes. reusable lunch containers and silverware instead of plastic bags are another great substitute. “I like using reusable containers for lunch because I feel like I’m helping the environment and they pretty durable than regular ziploc bags,” said sophomore Emily Anderson.

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