ST. LOUIS — Most kids starting back to school this week are looking forward to the new school year and are excited about learning new things. But one group of second graders at Buder Elementary in the Ritenour School District still have unfinished business from last year.
Six former first grade pupils in Catherine Richard’s class made a multi-media presentation to the Ritenour Board of Education last Thursday night.
They want the school board to stop the use of plastic straws in all district buildings.
It all started last January when the kids were cleaning up their lunch tables.
“When we were drinking with our straws and Ms. Richard's came to pick us up there were straw wrappers all over the table,” said Sammie Miller.
This prompted the kids to start asking questions.
“One of the students said why do we need straws anyway and the other kids were like, we need them to drink with and she said I don't use straws I just drink from the carton,” said their teacher Catherine Richard.
Another student observed that if you only use a straw once, it’s like paying for trash. The students set out to learn as much as they could about plastic straws and what they are doing to the environment.
They learned that plastic straws are polluting our oceans and are a danger to marine life.
“They hurt animals and when animals eat them they think it's food because it has food inside them and then when the animals eat it they die,” said Abigail Kline.
Erin Toohey added, “It hurt my heart when Ms. Richard said that straws hurt the environment.”
The school board agreed with the kids and straws will no longer be used for beverages, including small stir straws starting August 31. Straws may still be used in art classes and other projects.
The school Director of Child Nutrition, Patty Poretti, estimates that 1.35 million straws will be kept out of the environment this school year.
“We were all super-duper excited, most of us were like jumping up and down,” said Erin Toohey.
Their teacher said that the kids have a better idea for the plastic.
“Along the way they learned that plastic was produced from petroleum and in the classroom, they said you just use that straw once and then throw it away and it’s made from petroleum, we could use the petroleum for important things, like toys!”