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Be Straw Free' campaign makes its way across Lake Champlain

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Just as grocery store clerks ask customers if they want paper or plastic bags, restaurants in Plattsburgh are now asking, "Would you like a straw with your drink?"

Area restaurants are going strawless in an effort to be more environmentally-friendly following the launch of a recent campaign by a 9-year-old boy in Burlington, Vt. Milo Cress started www.bestrawfree.org, a Web site dedicated to reducing unnecessary waste by simply asking restaurants to limit the amount of straws they distribute.

"My mission is to reduce waste in our environment," said Cress. "My mom took me to a landfill to see how much American's waste all the time. I couldn't believe it."

Cress was motivated to start his Web site after seeing all that waste with his own eyes, and learning that regular straws are not biodegradable. In the United States alone, Cress learned, more than 50 million straws are used every day. That amounts to each person using 38,000 straws in his or her lifetime.

Cress said he started going to restaurants with his mother and asking owners to participate in going strawless. He said he explained to the owners there are other options - biodegradable straws, stainless steel straws, reusable straws, glass straws and, of course, not automatically giving straws out with drinks, either for a day, week, month or permanently.

"It's not hard," he said.

Bob Conlon, co-owner of Leunig's Bistro & Caf in Burlington, was asked by Cress to participate and said he gladly obliged, knowing not automatically giving out straws would help the environment and his bottom line.

"I couldn't say no to Milo," Conlon said. "At Leunig's, we served 28,102 beverages last year that we automatically served with straws. Straws cost once to two cents each, so this year by going strawless we would save $2,800."

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