From Starbucks vowing to get rid of straws to the plastic straw ban in California, these colorful plastic throw-aways may soon be a thing of the past. But it was a long road for environmentalists to reach this victorious path—and they have one young boy to thank for starting it all.

Milo Cress was just 9 years old when he urged a local neighborhood cafe in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont to stop offering plastic straws to patrons. Cress noticed that the straws, which were stuck in every drink ordered, were often tossed aside unused. “It seemed like a waste to me,” he told The Daily Beast.

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Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I

A post shared by Milo Cress (@milocress) on

Cress decided to approach the cafe owner and propose that they stop automatically giving out straws and only dole them out when requested. He argued that the simple move would eliminate waste, save them money and be good for the environment. “I was worried adults wouldn’t listen to me because I was kid… but I found the opposite to be true.”

It’s been eight years since Cress convinced the owner of Leunig’s Bistro to make a change and become the first restaurant in the nation to enact the offer first policy. In that time several other businesses have followed in their footsteps, including more recently, major corporations like Starbucks and McDonald’s.

As for Cress, his role in helping to ban plastic straws is just one part of what will surely be a lifelong path of innovative ideas. Before his lightbulb idea about straws, he was building a solar-powered popcorn machine at 6-years-old. At age 10 he went on CNN to share his idea for sippy cup-style lids to help replace straws. An idea that has since been adopted by Starbucks as well.

Now Cress is 17, one year away from heading off to college and passionate about all things Artificial Intelligence. This is one kid the world will want to keep its eye one. We predict more great things to come.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Be Straw Free via Facebook

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