An environmentally-conscious group of third-graders took the first steps to have plastic straws banned at Field Stevenson School. The students presented research they had done to the District 91 school board at a meeting on Nov. 14.

Field Stevenson Principal Tiffany Brunson was on hand to support the students, and she expressed her deep pride in them.

“They came to me about two months ago with their concern about straws,” said Brunson, who added that it was all the students’ idea to start this initiative. She suggested to them that they make a presentation to the school board.

At the meeting, each of the students took a turn speaking to the board. 

Jimmy Hepner began the presentation by saying, “It probably comes as no surprise to you that our oceans are important to life on our planet,” and went on to talk about how pollution, including plastics, are poisoning our water and the marine life in it. He ended his part of the presentation with a quote from the Marine Conservation Society: “The best solution to mitigate the environmental impact of plastic straws is preventing them from even entering our oceans.”

Nora Ernst spoke about how plastics harm marine life. Zoe Gittings moved on to the topic of microplastics, particles that are hard for sea life to discern from food, and the impact that has on the animals. 

Nina Zukowski talked about how some people, due to disabilities, need straws, but there are environmentally-friendly straws they can use. Later in the presentation, Olivia Serrao addressed one good option — compostable straws — but stressed that they need to be composted correctly or they can be just as dangerous to sea life because they don’t break down in water the way they would in compostable conditions.

Sebastian Carillo presented an astonishing fact: The average American uses 1.6 straws per day, which creates a huge amount of non-recyclable waste. Rowan Marello addressed why straws are not recyclable, since they are too lightweight to make it through the recyclable sorter. Makiylah Johnson was also part of the student committee but could not attend the meeting.

Superintendent Louis Cavallo complimented the students on their presentation and desire to motivate change. He said Edward Brophy, assistant superintendent of operations would investigate what the board can do to get the straws, which are brought in by district’s food supplier, removed.

“We’ll do whatever we can to get rid of those straws,” said Cavallo.

Confused about recycling?

Republic Services, the company that provides recycling services for Forest Park, offers these instructions to help residents ensure they’re recycling correctly:

Only place these items in the recycling container:

  • Flattened cardboard
  • Paper
  • Metal cans
  • Plastic bottles and jugs (all except #6 plastics)
  • Glass bottles and jars

How to prepare your recyclables:

  • Keep recyclables free of food and liquid. They should be empty, clean and dry.
  • Keep it loose. Never put recyclables in containers or bags.

Never place these items in the recycling container:

  • Plastic bags and wrappers
  • Soiled paper
  • Styrofoam
  • Clothing & shoes
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Tools
  • Food
  • Toys
  • Electronics & batteries
  • Construction waste
  • Medical waste
  • Yard waste
  • Diapers
  • Scrap metal


Learn more at