Twelfth-grader Erin Shives, of San Diego, California, is a surfer, avid beach cleaner, and overall environmental enthusiast. For her required senior project, the theme had to involve war and conflict, so Shives chose the “war on plastic.”
“I did several beach clean ups and recorded the amount of trash bags I filled and individual straws I picked up,” she says. “Over six beach clean ups, I recorded a total of 737 straws. I used these straws to make a sculpture of a sea turtle.”
Shives, who had never created a sculpture before, was surprised by the school’s reaction. “This project really touched my school and my turtle is currently in our school art gallery,” says Shives, who wrote a letter to Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw, thanking her for the inspiration and resources on her website.
Plastic straws are dangerous to wildlife. Due to their small size, straws are often mistaken for food by animals and because of their strong shape, straws can cause suffocation and death to the animal. In at least one instance, the stomach of a penguin was perforated by a plastic straw. In another, in a video seen around the world, a sea turtle’s nostril bled as a plastic straw was removed.
“Erin’s project is a great example of the power we all have to speak up about single-use plastic like plastic straws,” explains Nuñez. “Thank you Erin for your kind words and your work in helping save the planet from plastic pollution!”
The Last Plastic Straw, a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition, is on a mission is to raise awareness about the absurdity of single-use plastic and to empower people with information to take action in their communities.