Straws: Boulder’s next environmental frontier?
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.