A class of fourth-graders at Wallingford Elementary School in Delaware County persuaded the owner of one of the biggest pizzeria chains in the United States to change his straw policy.
The students wrote essays to Jim Ilaria, the CEO of UNO Pizzeria & Grill, in hopes of getting him to update his business's straw practices.
Within weeks, Ilaria responded by changing UNO’s policy for giving out straws with drinks at its more than 100 restaurants to "on-demand only."
Susan Knight, the students' teacher at Wallington, said she was "ridiculously proud" of her fourth graders' accomplishment.
"I would say I’m overwhelmed and I tear up at times because not only what they have done, but we’ve needed some pretty special adult help along the way," she said.
On Friday, Ilaria visited the class — complete with an UNO-style pizza party — to celebrate their efforts to bring a positive environmental change.
"Small kids can make big changes to their world," Ilaria said. "They know that they can change the world and that’s what’s important."
He added, "My franchise thought it was the right thing to do for the environment. Our franchise partners got behind this right away."
The Wallingford kids didn't just change the straw policy at UNO.
They also wrote essays to a local restaurant called Ruby’s Diner, which changed its policy within a week.
Last month, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a proclamation making June 1 "Skip the Straw Day" in Pennsylvania.
Years of plastic use, like straws, bags, and cups have led researchers to estimate that 90% of all seabirds and sea turtle species have ingested pieces of plastic, according to a report in the World Wildlife Magazine. Within a decade, the magazine has reported there could be a pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish.