Family Inspire

How A 17-Year-Old Girl Scout Reduced Plastic Straws

With the power of  GIRL (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk Taker, and  Leader) and the support of Girl Scouts, Shelby O’Neil founded the nonprofit, Jr. Ocean Guardians, to combat waste and defend the environment.  A California native, Shelby loves the ocean and wanted to find a way to make a positive difference.

Realizing that plastic straws often end up littering the beaches and floating in the ocean where they are harmful to sea life, Shelby decided to do something about single use straws. Initiating a movement called No Straw November, she encouraged people who don’t medically need a straw to reject unnecessary plastic straws during November because they’re a main source of ocean pollution.

I was excited to chat with Shelby and Dr. Andrea Bastani (Girl Scouts USA Chief Girl & Family Engagement Officer) to learn more about Shelby and her nonprofit Jr. Ocean Guardians. With support from Girl Scout troops and notable environmental activists, Shelby’s organization, has eliminated the use of millions of plastic straws and promoted reusable alternatives! As she says, “Saving our seas one sip at a time with “No Straw November”.

How A 17-Year-Old Girl Scout Reduced Plastic Straws

To make change happen, Shelby conducted a letter-writing campaign to executives at prominent corporations, convincing a leading airline to formally discontinue its use of non-recyclable plastic straws and working with other companies to improve their sustainability practices. She reached out to CEOs and influencers from a variety of companies, imploring them to reduce unnecessary plastic straw usage. In the following months, four companies all made voluntary commitments to eliminate over 27 million unnecessary single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and citrus picks.

That’s 27 million plastic straws, stirrers, and picks eliminated! That is a huge positive impact on our oceans!

Recently, because of Shelby’s advocacy, the California State Assembly passed SCR 139, officially proclaiming November as No Straw November in the state.

Shelby knows how to make a difference and truly understands the power of GIRL.

How A 17-Year-Old Girl Scout Reduced Plastic Straws

As a Girl Scout, Shelby has received the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts! Congratulations, Shelby on your Gold Award and for creating a non-profit dedicated to protecting our oceans.

Photo credit:

And a huge thank you to Girl Scouts. I love what Girl Scouts is doing for our young women. They are giving girls the skills they need to tackle the worlds most pressing issues through their leadership development.

(1) Comment

  1. Great article, and what a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing this, Stacey. ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *