Mobilization and Events

Environmental Consciousness: Choose to be Straw Free

mxWhether we like it or not, our behavior has a lasting impact on our environment. Be it a massive oil spill or a simple plastic straw, the decisions that we make on a daily basis affect the world that we leave for our children. But there are those who have made it their life goal to do something about it. Milo Cress is small boy from Vermont with big dreams. Milo’s “Choose to be Straw Free” campaign is about being conscious of the impact of something so insignificant as a drinking straw.

I got a hold of Xanterra’s Catherine Greener for the inside scoop on their and Milo’s joint venture:

Alec Ross: Give me a little information on what Xanterra is about. How does Xanterra fit into Milo’s campaign?
Catherine Greener: Our mission is simple: legendary hospitality with a softer footprint. At Xanterra, we understand that everyone likes to go on vacation. But we  recognize that everything we do, even on vacation, has an impact on our environment. Our vision is to minimize this impact. Milo’s “Choose to be Straw Free” campaign is about about straws, but it’s not actually about the straws. It’s about being conscious of our impact on the environment. How can you enjoy your vacation with minimal impact on the planet? We want to be the leaders in that conversation.

AR: How did Xanterra team up with Milo?
I was doing some research on large scale park activity when we connected with Milo. He is with a wonderful resource here in Colorado called Eco Cycle.  We found that this charming, visionary young man had exactly the same idea we did. That’s where it all started. But the whole project is Milo’s. He went looking for signatures and we knew we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I remember realizing that Montanta Grill signed up before we did. If a restaurant can choose to make a difference, then Xanterra certainly couldn’t pass it up.

Straws are just a gateway to the ultimate conversation: environmental responsibility.

AR: A disposable straw is a pretty insignificant thing. How would going “Straw Free” make a difference?
We’re not going to solve the plastic in the ocean’s issue by getting people to use fewer straws. But, we are about showing people that they have a choice. There are definite times when people need a straw, we’re not trying to take everyone’s straws.  We’re asking people to be straw free when they don’t need one. It’s “Choose to be straw free” not “Be straw free”. It’s about being consciousness of how our daily decisions affect the world around us. Straws are just a gateway to the ultimate conversation: environmental responsibility. It’s about those things that you can choose to do to make a lesser impact on the planet. We all have to make the choice to make the world a better place.

AR: To what future projects might this lead?
CG: We’re in a consumer world. We have natural resources that we use and don’t replace. I think in the future, we would like to see products that are reusable, that protect our natural environment. We have a relationships with the parks systems, and we take that very seriously. We are asking questions like, “How do we use our raw materials?” and finding answers that will make a difference. We are hard at work developing prototypes, green-buildings, and sustainable food.

AR: Tell me about Milo’s “Offer First” policy.
A Lot of times we go to restaurants and our drinks are served with straws, regardless of if we want them. Milo’s “Offer First” policy  encourages waiters and waitresses to say “May I offer you a straw” instead of serving one out of habit.

AR: Milo has done a lot of traveling while spreading the word. What are the international aspects of the “Be Straw Free” campaign?
CG: They love him in Australia and Asia! We’ve had to schedule meetings around his international trips. He’s such an endearing person. When asked about why he’s doing what he’s doing, he replies: “Because we’re already here”. He understands that we don’t need to wait to begin to make a change. He understands that our children will inherit the problems we create.

AR: What can we all be doing to further the cause of plastic reduction.
Think about the one thing in your life, that one change, that will leave the world a better place. I don’t know what that is, but everyone has one. We all have to start thinking about how we’re going to leave the world a better place. Everyone is going to have different answer, but it’s important that people ask those questions. It doesn’t take a lot of resources. We all love to enjoy the park, so many treasures that we need to protect. We have a responsibility to protect our world for the people to come.

For more information on “Choose to be Straw Free”, check out Milo’s website.


Written by Alec Ross