Ashtabula kids push for ordinance that makes plastic straws available by request only

Ashtabula youngsters protest against plastic straws
Updated: Aug. 1, 2018 at 5:39 PM EDT
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ASHTABULA, OH (WOIO) - Some kids in Ashtabula are leading the charge for change when it comes to plastics straws.

It's estimated that Americans use 500 million straws in a single day, assuming that each person uses 1.6 straws on a daily basis.

That sheer volume has been contributing to pollution on Earth's ocean and shorelines, many scientists say, and hurting wildlife.

When the group Kids for Positive Change met this year to decide on their big project for the summer--straws came front and center.

"It made me so mad that animals were just getting their animals plugged up with plastic," said member Jason Hamilton. "I think that's taking a big toll on us."

The kids, along with group founder Camille Licate, began lobbying local restaurants to switch to paper over plastic.

Tony's Dog House was one of the first to do that. Owner Anthony Romano says it's a little more expensive, but it's worth it.

"When we first started, we had a couple people come in that were really bashing us, saying that's crazy, you shouldn't do that," said Romano. "But now the people who were bashing us, they're on board. They like the idea."

Next week, the kids will be at the City Council meeting as members take on a new ordinance suggested by the group Kids for Positive Change. It will mandate that restaurants give customers plastic straws only if they ask for them.

"We're very, very fortunate that it looks like City Council will pass, it looks like they're on our side," said Licate.

Some restaurants, like Martinis! in Ashtabula, have already made that switch.

"We've kind of broken ourselves of the habit of sticking straws in everything, and a lot of them just skip the straw," said Maryann Spencer.

More than ten restaurants in town, including Tony's Dog House and Martinis!, have made some sort of change in the way they serve straws, most of them after meeting with Kids for Positive Change.

Spencer thinks restaurant owners here are more willing to consider change because of the negative impact plastic pollution has on shoreline towns like Ashtabula.

"We want our beaches clean, we want our tourism to pick up, and we want our environment to stay nice," she said.

There are still a few details on the ordinance left to hammer out, but it is expected to be presented to the City Council for its first reading next week.

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