MEET MILO CRESS WHOSE ‘BE STRAW-FREE’ CAMPAIGN INFLUENCED THE WORLD’S PLASTIC USE
FEATURED IN THE YVFP FILM ‘THE LAST STRAW’
In the award-winning short film, ‘The Last Straw’ we see 9-year-old Milo Cress concerned about the millions of straws that pollute waterways, waste fossil fuel and harm ocean creatures. He contacts straw manufacturers to ask for straw production estimates and comes away with a now widely quoted estimated of 500 million straws used each day! He convinces restaurants to “go straw-free,” addresses Congress, and is championed by international media. Milo’s actions inspire Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to declare a Straw Free Day (June 11th) and ignites other young changemakers to take up the cause.
The ‘The Last Straw’ is one of thirteen Young Voices for the Planet (YVFP) films produced by Lynne Cherry documenting youth solutions to the climate crisis and other environmental and social justice issues.
Since making the film, YVFP has followed Milo’s progress in advocating for smarter straw use as he travels around the world speaking to students, community leaders and the media, and inspiring other organizations to take up the gauntlet and promote his idea of “offer first” (offering versus automatically handing out straws). As is shown in the YVFP film, Milo’s campaign inspires children worldwide to advocate for reducing the number of straws used by their local eating establishments. The United States’ National Restaurant Association recognized Milo’s “offer-first” policy as a best practice and several chain restaurants and cafes, including Red Lobster and Starbucks enacted it. Milo’s work has influenced straw use around the world as well, particularly in New South Wales, Australia, Canada, and South Korea and Japan, where he is mentioned in school textbooks.
Milo has won the coveted Blue Turtle Award from Jean-Michel Cousteau, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, the Everyday Young Hero Award, from Youth Service America, the Eco-Hero Award from Action for Nature and several other awards and recognitions.
Milo is now in his twenties and a computer science major at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Turning his focus to the ethics surrounding artificial intelligence, Milo joined Vermont’s AI Task Force, the first state-led initiative of its kind in the nation. Eco-Cycle, a leading recycler and advocate for zero waste communities in Colorado, currently hosts and promotes the Be Straw Free campaign.