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Newport-Mesa school district nixes plastic straws after hearing from CdM 7th-grader

Chloe Mei Espinosa, pictured in April, stands near Huntington Dog Beach showing plastic straws that she wants to keep out of the ocean.
(File Photo)

An incoming seventh-grader at Corona del Mar Middle School lobbied the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to stop offering plastic straws with student lunches this fall. And that’s what the district is going to do.

Chloe Mei Espinosa’s passion for diving at tropical reefs and her desire to reduce pollution from plastic in the ocean inspired her in April to design and launch skiptheplasticstraw.com. Since then, 622 people have pledged on her website to stop using straws.

To expand her campaign’s reach, Chloe Mei emailed Dale Ellis, nutrition services director for Newport-Mesa Unified, about eliminating plastic straws from the district’s 32 campuses. Her cause immediately struck a chord with Ellis, who agreed to replace plastic coffee stirrers with wood stirrers in employee break rooms and make paper straws available throughout the school district.

“When I heard the good news, I felt like the ocean was giving me a huge hug saying, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me,’” Chloe Mei said.

She now feels stronger than ever about her campaign and that anything is possible.

“I love the passion she has for this initiative,” Ellis said. “It is truly rewarding to see our students make a positive difference in our world, and we are thrilled to be a part of the change with her.”

After her summer break, Chloe Mei plans to approach neighboring school districts about following Newport-Mesa’s lead.

Daniel Langhorne is a contributor to Times Community News.


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