Don’t be a sucker
Everyday hero Molly Steer, a 10-year-old school student from Cairns, has founded the Straw No More project, encouraging Australians to ditch plastic straws because of the damage they wreak on our planet.
Airnorth Magazine - December 2018/January 2019
Words by: Katrina Holden
When Cairns primary school student Molly Steer watched the film A Plastic Ocean with her mum in February last year, she was shocked to learn for the first time that plastic never breaks down, and discover the devastating effects plastic pollution is having on our planet and oceans. During the car ride home, Molly, then aged nine, began to wonder what she could do to make a difference to this significant
“I started the Straw No More project because I didn’t like seeing the turtles being hurt,” says Molly, who has ambitions to one day become a marine biologist.
Living in Cairns at the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Molly is motivated each day to help save and protect marine life. On the world’s largest coral reef system, right on her doorstep, more than 75 per cent of marine debris found is plastic.
Straws in particular, says Molly, are a “massive” problem.
“Every day humans use more than 500 million plastic straws, which is enough to go around the earth four times,” says Molly.
Straws are used once, and then are either incinerated – which releases toxic emissions – or end up in landfill, where they leach harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater. The rest find their way into oceans because they are light and can travel great distances.
Molly began in her own backyard, convincing her school's principal to ban plastic straws on school grounds. With the help of her mum Jules and the support of siblings Joseph (eight), Rosie (six) and Audrey (four), Molly rolled out the Straw No More project, attracting attention from local and national press, and soon receiving contact from schoolkids asking how they could help champion her cause.
“Australians have been very shocked and said they didn’t know what they were doing,” says Molly. “But now a lot of people don’t use plastic straws,” she adds proudly.
Molly admits that she finds giving speeches to be a nerve-wracking experience. “But I’m getting better at it,” she says.
Her publicity skills were put to the test earlier this year when Craig Reucassel from the ABC program War on Waste visited Molly in Cairns for a segment about plastic straws. The pair went snorkelling. “We saw a big turtle!” an excited Molly recalls.
After the program aired, Molly’s mum Jules received 1,800 emails in 48 hours from all around the country, with more than two-thirds of those from people interested in the StrawBassador program, inspiring others to continue Molly’s work in their own communities.
More announcements and resources will be made available at strawnomore.org, so check in regularly to see how you can get involved.
Back in the family car after school, with her mum behind the wheel and surrounded by her younger siblings, Molly doesn’t hesitate
when asked who her hero is.
“My mum! She always inspires me and she’s never really afraid to do anything.”
Airnorth flies to Cairns from Darwin and Gove. For more information head to www.airnorth.com.au
DID YOU KNOW?
• Plastic production has outpaced recycling by five times in the past decade.
• Straws do not biodegrade, creating pollution at every stage of their existence.
• 86 per cent of all sea turtle species are affected by plastic (Greenpeace report 2006 Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans).
• More than 75 per cent of marine debris found on the Great Barrier Reef is plastic.
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