Hi! 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 for a sixth-grade school project, called the Passion Project, where I was able to research anything I was passionate about.
As a scuba diver, I love the ocean and marine mammals. I was very heartbroken after watching the video of a plastic straw stuck in a turtle’s nose. It was a wake-up call to me and I knew I had to take action to protect these innocent marine animals from plastic pollution.
For my Passion Project, I chose to research and campaign against the use of single-use plastic straws. I created my website, SkipThePlasticStraw.com, and Instagram page, @skiptheplasticstraw, to educate people on the harmful effects of single-use plastic straws.
Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day, which could fill more than 46,400 large school buses. 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 outlives you and 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, plastic will continue to end up in the ocean and affect marine life indefinitely. We all need to do our part to reduce our consumption of single-use plastic – and plastic straws are a good start!
Since my campaign launched in April 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 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. I was also selected to be on the Delta Green Up Youth Advisory Board, working with other youth to help make Delta Air Lines a more sustainable airline. And I was selected 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 the Sustainable 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 – including 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
Through this campaign, I’ve learned that it’s possible for one person – adult or kid – to make a difference for our environment. All it takes is someone who cares passionately enough to start their journey to low-waste living or even to begin a campaign.
Single-use plastic straws are a problem, but they’re only the tip of the single-use plastic problem. If you can start by joining me to skip that plastic straw and switch to alternative straws – like a glass, bamboo or a metal straws – or no straw at all, you will already be making a huge difference!
You can also help by printing or emailing my campaign restaurant flyer to your favorite restaurant and ask them to consider switching to a biodegradable option.
“Skip the plastic straw. Save our oceans.”