Plastic straws are useful and ubiquitous. They are also helping to choke our oceans and landfills with indestructible pollution, say environmental activists.
Bailey Byrnes, an eighth-grade student at Sacred Heart School in Winnetka, no longer uses plastic straws. She and her family now use reusable metal straws in their Highland Park home. But Bailey, 13, wanted to go beyond making a personal change in habits.
She hopes that bringing “Straws,” a half-hour documentary on the dangers of single use plastic, to Winnetka on Oct. 24 can start a conversation that could ultimately lead people and local businesses to cut that kind of plastic from their daily lives.
“I go to school in Winnetka, I go to restaurants in Winnetka, and I hoped we could bring the film here,” Bailey said.
With the help of her mother, Kris Byrnes, Bailey worked with Shedd Aquarium representatives to get the film. Then she contacted Go Green Winnetka, asking if that environmental education group would like to partner with her.
Go Green Winnetka reports filmmaker Linda Booker created “Straws” to bring the issue to life for viewers.
The film, which won an award for outstanding achievement in environmental film at the Cayman International Film Festival, uses animation and segments narrated by actor Tim Robbins to outline the problems caused by plastic pollution, and ways individuals and businesses can reduce plastics use.
Bailey’s request to bring “Straws” to town dovetailed with Go Green Winnetka’s interests, organization President Liz Kunkle said. “It was the right place and the right time that brought us together.”
“Bringing our community together to watch ‘Straws’ will undoubtedly inspire people to change their personal use of straws ad other single use plastic,” Kunkle added.
That’s what Bailey hopes, and she and friends from school plan to visit local restaurants and other straw-using businesses, to ask them to consider eliminating that practice.
“When my mom told me about the problem, I figured it was something that I as an eighth-grader could do. I could start discussions with restaurants about using straws,” she said. “There are all types of reusable straws, metal, glass, bamboo and even hay.”
She and her friends have begun the process of approaching local businesses.
“I think we’re going to do well. Any time you make a choice not to use plastic, it makes you feel like you’ve done something right,” she said.
“Straws” will screen at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Winnetka Congregational Church’s Centennial room, 725 Pine St. It is free to the public.