Every Washington Primary School student now has their own reusable drinking straw, thanks to a recent donation by the Washington Environmental Council.

The WEC delivered 150 stainless steel straws and cleaners to WPS students for use at school and home.

To complement the program, WPS students sewed 150 cloth sleeves to store and transport their new straws.

Age-appropriate presentations were given to the students educating them about the issues surrounding single-use plastics and safe handling of their straws.

Due to this initiative, WPS will make no new purchases of disposable straws.

This will save over 10,000 single-use plastic straws from being dumped into a landfill each year.

Newly appointed WEC director Amanda Seitz lead the initiative.

“It has been a huge passion of mine to eliminate single use plastic items from my family’s life, while helping others do the same,” Seitz said.

“Teaching our children these values is so imperative,” she said. “Mother Earth is screaming for our attention, and this future generation is listening.”

Over 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the United States, or 182.5 billion straws per year.

Straws pose deadly health risks to wildlife of both land and sea.

Plastic does not biodegrade, it simply breaks down into smaller pieces in a process called photodegradation.

These tiny pieces referred to as “microplastics” infiltrate the water supply, contaminating oceans, rivers, lakes, and soil.

Microplastics have been found in bottled and tap water, and are also being detected in beer, sea salt, fish and shellfish.

The reusable straw program is part of WEC’s effort to reduce and/or eliminate the use of disposable plastic items in Washington.

WEC is working with the Town of Washington to draft an ordinance banning single use disposable plastic checkout bags and certain paper bags for an upcoming vote in spring.

Region 12 schools interested in starting their own reusable straw program are welcome to contact WEC at info@wec-ct.org.

WEC will partner with schools to investigate potential grant opportunities in the 2019-20 school year.