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First person/Milo Cress

Cup crusader

Fourth-grader Milo Cress of Burlington, Vermont, says think twice before reaching for that disposable straw.

By Nancy Heiser
May 15, 2011

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Why did you start the BeStrawFree project?

Most people just don’t even think about not using straws. Anyone who orders a drink can get one without a straw.

Why should people use fewer plastic straws?

Imagine 9,300 bus loads of straws going into a landfill every day. What do you do when the landfill is full? You have to dig another one. Then what do you do when the land is all filled up?

How many disposable straws do we use in the United States each day?

Five hundred million.

Where did you get that figure?

We contacted straw manufacturers and added it all up.

Who is helping with your project?

My mom, mostly.

What changes would you like to see?

We’re encouraging restaurants to ask customers if they would like a straw instead of putting one in every drink – just as grocery stores ask if you want paper or plastic. People can cooperate, too. They can say, “No straw, please.” Once the straw hits the table, you can’t take it back. It becomes trash. It’s regulation.

Are there reusable straws?

Yes, many. There are steel straws, glass straws, bamboo straws.

You have several zoos as supporters. Why did they get involved?

For their animals. It’s not good for them to swallow straws.

You’ve met the governor of Vermont, been on TV. Are you nervous in these situations?

Well, yeah. But when I get there, I don’t feel as nervous, because I get to meet the people, and they are just people.

What would you like to be in 20 years?

Maybe a computer programmer. Maybe a chemist or a physicist. Maybe an astronaut.

Any big summer plans?

Congressman [Peter] Welch suggested we meet when my mom and I are in D.C. I’m excited to tell him Mayor Bob Kiss and I are working to make Burlington the “First Straw-Free City in America.”

Have your classmates at the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes all signed on?

Some might not have, and that’s OK. Using a straw every once in a while isn’t a problem. I don’t want to be the straw police.

Milo Cress (Photograph by Caleb Kenna)
  • May 15, 2011 cover
  • May 15, 2011 cover
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