NINE-year-old Molly Steer is on a mission.
The Year 4 student at Mother of Good Counsel School, North Cairns, single-handedly spearheaded a crusade to rid the world of plastic straws.
Her Straw No More Project started earlier this year and has been embraced by more than 10,000 students across Australia.
Her plans are to see plastic straws eliminated completely, an idea that started after she saw the documentary A Plastic Ocean with her mother Jules.
“The movie showed all the plastic that is in our ocean and how it is hurting the marine animals,” Molly said.
“And then I saw a clip on YouTube about a turtle with a straw stuck up its nose.
“All my life I’ve loved turtles, and I wanted to try to help them.”
Molly’s first step was to stop using straws herself and then she convinced her friends to do the same.
She spoke at school assembly, explaining why the school’s principal Ruth Mallon and the tuckshop backed her campaign and stopped supplying straws.
“There are some kids at school who are still using them, but most of the kids aren’t,” Molly said.
“One day, I’m sure we’ll be able to convince the other kids to stop too.
“After all, we live in Cairns and our school is really close to the Esplanade and the ocean.
“It’s kind of our job to look after it.”
Sixteen local schools have joined Molly’s campaign.
“I’m happy that so many schools have joined, but I still want more to,” she said.
“I am going to keep going until all the schools in Australia join in.”
With her mother’s help, Molly’s research into straw use globally discovered some facts that shocked them.
“Humans use more than five-hundred million straws a day,” she said.
“If you lined these up end-to-end, they would wrap around the earth four times.
“Five-hundred million straws could also fill seventeen school buses.
“That’s every single day.
“I also learned that plastic will never, ever completely break down – not even in one-hundred years.
“That means that the first plastic straw you ever used is still somewhere on the planet.
“Plastic straws are also in the top five most common items at beach clean-ups.”
Molly’s mission has gained huge media attention, which included her being the youngest person to be invited to speak at a TedX talk in Cairns recently.
“She absolutely nailed her talk,” her mother Jules said.
“She wasn’t nervous at all, but I was and I don’t think I breathed at all.”
Ms Mallon is both impressed and proud of Molly.
“I think her campaign is an incredible example of what one person can do to have an effect on the behaviour of others, and for it to be a child who has that effect is great for every person in the world to see,” she said.
“We have already done a lot of work with our students about recycling products, but we haven’t done as much about not using them in the first place.
“We are now looking beyond the straws and want to extend our sustainability concepts beyond recycling to what we’re using in the first place.”
Molly is determined to make everyone aware of the dangers of using plastic straws, and to use alternatives such as bamboo, stainless steel, paper and glass straws.
“Once all the schools in Australia join in, I’d like to get cafes, restaurants and reef boats to stop using plastic straws too,” she said.
“And then probably start on the big hotels and resorts. I want to get rid of all the plastic straws in the world.”
For more information on the campaign visit www.fb.com/StrawNoMoreProject. See Molly’s TEDx talk at https://youtu.be/Rr5Py1r9xjw.