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A 10-year-old urges restaurants to 'be straw free'

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Courtesy of Rachel Cernansky

(Read caption) Milo Cress, a 10-year-old in Burlington, Vt., has started a campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws by restaurants. 'I'm not out to ban plastic straws,' he says. 'Just cut back on them. Way back, if possible.'

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When it dawned on Milo Cress that restaurants were constantly serving drinks with a plastic straw, whether he wanted one or not, he thought about what a waste that was – and decided to do something about it.

But he was not your average activist or even restaurant consumer. He was nine years old.

In February 2011, Milo set to work. He approached Leunig's Bistro in Burlington, Vt., where he lived, to see if it would consider offering straws to customers instead of serving them automatically.

"The goal is to reduce the use and waste of plastic straws that go into our landfill, and to encourage restaurants to adopt an "offer-first policy," says Milo, now 10.  

Leunig's said yes immediately, and Milo's' BeStrawFree campaign has snowballed ever since.

"Now there are restaurants all over. There's a big restaurant chain in Canada, and restaurants across the country. Thousands of restaurants," he says. "People in more than 30 countries are interested and are participating."

Giving out disposable plastic straws is so common that, according to Simply Straws, more than 500 million of them are used in the United States every day. (That doesn't include straws attached to juice boxes.)

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