NEW CANAAN — Esha Dagli’s concern for the damage caused by straws goes back to a video of a turtle having a plastic tube pulled out, painfully, from its nose.
“That video really stuck with me and I decided I wanted to take action,” Dagli, 16, said.
As a result, Dagli, who has previously interned for the New Canaan Land Trust, chose to focus on environmental injustices as a member of the Girl Scouts.
“I made a flyer to give to restaurants in town. I thought that would have a stronger impact because customers would think about it too,” Dagli said. “The reaction was mostly positive, most restaurant managers said they would consider it or were ready to do it now.”
Margot Bright, a member of Planet New Canaan, a local environmentalist group, shares Dagli’s concern, citing the damage that straws cause in marine ecosystems.
“Marine life is dying at rapid rates, trash is washing up and polluting shores all around the globe and the plastic is making its way onto our dinner table,” Bright said. “Reducing (the use of straws) is paramount.”
Dagli’s project is an example of a growing national and international trend against the use of plastic due to the amount of waste generated. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans threw out more than 33 million tons of plastic in 2014.
Dagli and Bright visited several local restaurants to gauge their interest in participating in the effort by either giving straws to customers who request them or switching to paper or reusable straws.
“Local restaurants have been discussing the reduction of plastic straws for quite some time. However, only a couple of restaurants have taken action,” Bright said.
Cherry Street East, a restaurant on 45 East Ave., is one of the local establishments that transitioned from plastic to paper straws earlier this spring.
“The decision was made...paper straws it is!,” a March 20 Facebook post from the restaurant read.
Amidst other environmental conservation efforts in town, Bright believes that initiatives like this help raise awareness about how things like this can impact residents.
“Hopefully Dagli and the Girl Scouts will raise awareness of this important issue so we can all work together to clean up our fragile ocean ecosystems,” Bright said.
Though she’s in her last year at New Canaan High School, Dagli said she would stick to the project even after she heads off to college.
“I’m just hoping to educate the town and I don’t know how long that will take but I’m hoping to continue making this issue known,” Dagli said.