We're launching the first-ever Simply Straws Defying Leaders series highlighting individuals who are going above and beyond in their communities.
As we continue to navigate through this year of immense change and challenges, we're finding more reason than ever to spread positivity and share stories of individuals who are defying the status quo and becoming incredible activists of change.
Meet Chloe Mei Espinosa, she's 14 years old and has already made an incredible impact here, in our local community in Orange County, California.
We recently had the opportunity to interview Chloe Mei and share her story behind her own organization Skip the Plastic Straw. Her drive and passion towards building awareness in sustainability has already proven some major successes including a campaign to remove all plastic straws from cafeterias in three school districts, the Outdoor Science Institute, and two hospitals in Orange County.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
My name is Chloe Mei Espinosa, I am 14 years old, and the founder of Skip the Plastic Straw.I started my campaign when I was 11 years old, as asixth-gradeschool project, called the Passion Project, where I was able to research anything I was passionate about. For my Passion Project, I chose to research and campaign against the use of single-use plastic straws, and created my website: skiptheplasticstraw.com and instagram @skiptheplasticstraw to educate people on the harmful effects of single-use plastic straws.
Since my campaign launched in 2018, I have convinced PALI Outdoor Science Institute in the San Bernardino Mountains, three school districts (128 schools in total), and two hospitals in Orange County, USA, to join my campaign to remove all plastic straws from their cafeterias. I created posters to display at all 128 schools to inform students and teachers of the new change and to hopefully inspire them to skip the plastic straw even outside of school. I also started a lecture series to youth groups and adults and have presented to thousands of people on the harmful effects of single-use plastic straws.
I received the Captain Planet Foundation's Young Superhero for Earth Award in 2018, Top 100 Influencers in 2018 in Orange County by The Orange County Register, the Junior Philanthropist Award in 2019 from Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, and Ocean Hero Award in 2019 from OCEANA in recognition of my work.Last November, I was invited as a guest to share my campaign on The Kelly Clarkson Show and, just recently, I was honored to be selected as a Finalist for the TIME Magazine/Nickelodeon first-ever Kid of the Year 2020.
In 2019, I was given amazing opportunities to work on other environmental projects whenIwas also selected to be on the Delta Green Up Youth Advisory Board, working with otheryouthto help make Delta Air Lines a more sustainable airline and as a judge for the Redford Center Stories Film Competition, encouraging middle school children to get creative and produce short films on ways they can help beat plastic pollution.
Since I haven't been able to do in-person presentations due to the pandemic, my sister (Ella Lin) and I decided to find other ways of reaching out to people including launching a new YouTube Channel called theSustainable Sisters! Our channel is all about reviewing eco-friendly products and brands, and sharing ways we can all help to protect our environment! We also organized our first-ever Skip the Plastic Straw Global Cleanup Challenge with Litterati in the month of September with a goal to collect at least 10,000 pieces of trash. In just one month, we exceeded our goal and picked up – and documented! – a total of 11,361 pieces of trash! We had a total of 76 amazing participants from all over the world – like the USA, Netherlands, Spain, Qatar, Philippines, Pakistan, Africa, and even Singapore! – who joined our global virtual cleanup challenge! For more details on my work during COVID-19, read my website blog: skiptheplasticstraw.com/blog
Q: Why do you advocate plastic free / low-waste living?
Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day, which could fill more than 46,400 large school buses per day. That's a lot of straws! Unlike other plastics, plastic straws are not recyclable or biodegradable – you use a plastic straw for a few minutes but it stays on the planet for hundreds of years. Plastic straws only break down into microscopic pieces and marine animals mistake them as food, causing them to injure, suffocate or die. If this doesn’t change, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. We all need to do our part to reduce our consumption of single-use plastic and plastic straws are a good start!
Q: What advice can you give to someone who is just starting their journey to low-waste living?
At Simply Straws, we're inspired everyday by the incredible actions and perseverance by defying leaders - individuals who are going above and beyond to make sustained change. Thank you Chloe Mei for creating incredible impact, generating awareness and pushing hard to inspire others to start making change.
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