Graveraet student taking steps to solve plastic problem

The power of one, in this case, one child with a good idea and sufficient motivation to take a plan past the talking stage to implementation.

That’s what we have in Anton Reinaas, a third grader at Graveraet Elementary School in Marquette. During each lunch and afternoon snack session at the eastside school, some 250 students unwrap plastic straws from their paper housings and enjoy a beverage. Add that up over 200 school days per year and you’re looking at a mountain of discarded straws — perhaps 50,000 or more — which end up in an area landfill.

“I hate having the community and the world getting trashed by all the plastic straws and all the other plastic stuff … it’s really not good for the world,” Reinaas said for a Mining Journal story on the matter.

Indeed, more than 22 million pounds of plastic ends up polluting the Great Lakes each year. International officials report “islands” of floating plastic the side of some small states bobbing around in the world’s oceans. And we’ve all seen the horrifying photos of victimized animals impacted in some way by discarded plastic.

But here’s where people like Anton separate themselves from untold numbers of others, adults included. Rather than to observe the problem before moving on to something else, he resolved to actually doing something about it. With the help of lunch lady Jodi Michael and Graveraet Elementary School Principal Sarah Kemppainen, he developed a proposal to purchase 500 washable stainless steel straws. A parent group reviewed the proposal recently and, we’re told, is expected to approve it.

We hope this proposal is implemented. It’s the right thing to do at the right time.

And its development speaks well of not only how Anton is being raised but the quality of his learning environment. Hats off to all involved.


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