Straws: Boul­der’s next en­vi­ron­men­tal fron­tier?

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Alex Bur­ness

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups are launch­ing a cam­paign called Suck the Straws out of Boul­der to ed­u­ate peo­ple on the harm of plas­tic straws.

“I have al­ways been pestered in­ter­nally by the sight of straws that are used, that are wasted, that are ridicu­lous,” said Gra­ham Hill, a Boul­der res­i­dent whose non­profit Shared Paths Boul­der is work­ing with other groups on the ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tive. “There could be three straws that a bar­tender sticks in your glass. We take prod­ucts like straws for granted.”

The groups in­volved have al­ready se­cured a big-name backer: Singer Jack John­son plans to plug the ef­fort dur­ing his two con­certs at Fid­dler’s Green Am­phithe­atre in Green­wood Vil­lage next week, said Vicki Ni­chols Goldstein of the Colorado Ocean Coali­tion.

Why the fo­cus on straws, of all things?

For starters, straws are ev­ery­where — in restau­rants, at soda foun­tains, in movie the­aters and on the sides of juice boxes — and they’re rarely reused. They’re among the most com­monly lit­tered items, and in wa­ter­ways they’re one of the most po­tent plas­tic pol­lu­tants; a widely shared video of a straw com­ing out of a sea tur­tle’s nose helped start the mod­ern anti-straw move­ment.

Ear­lier this year, Hill was awarded a $300 mi­cro­grant given out by the city and the group C3 Boul­der to sup­port cli­mate-re­lated lo­cal ini­tia­tives.

This move­ment is not unique to Boul­der, but the city is a na­tional bas­tion of straw op­po­si­tion.

Boul­der’s EcoCy­cle is the head­quar­ters for the Be Straw Free cam­paign, which is fronted by lo­cal teen and prom­i­nent an­ti­s­traw ad­vo­cate Milo Cress. His work has in­cluded an ef­fort to re­cruit restau­rants into adopt­ing an “of­fer first” pol­icy on straws, and he’s trav­eled around the coun­try spread­ing his mes­sage.

Boul­der, where plas­tic bags cost 10 cents at gro­cery stores and apart­ment build­ings are re­quired to of­fer com­post bins, has al­ready proved fer­tile ground for sus­tain­abil­ity ef­forts.

Hill’s team knows con­vinc­ing peo­ple to stop us­ing dis­pos­able straws will take time.

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