We had the good fortune of connecting with Chloe Mei Espinosa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chloe Mei, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started my campaign, Skip the Plastic Straw, in sixth grade as part of a Passion Project that my class participated in. Each student was asked to create something that aligned with a passion of his/hers; for example, creating a sketchbook, baking a cake or starting a pen pal. I decided to focus my Passion Project on removing single-use plastic straws, as I was heartbroken after watching the video of the straw stuck in a turtle’s nose. As a certified scuba diver, I wanted to keep the ocean clean and safe for the marine animals.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I created Skip the Plastic Straw in April 2018, first with my website www.
Americans use an estimated 500 million plastic straws every day, which could fill more than 125 large school buses. Plastic straws are not recyclable and they end up in our landfills, or worse our oceans. And one plastic straw takes more than 200 years to break down! If this doesn’t change, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Since my campaign launched in April 2018, I have managed to get more than 1,400 pledges on my website from individuals to stop using plastic straws. Additionally, I’ve also convinced four school districts – a total of 200 schools – and two hospitals in Orange County, California, to stop using plastic straws in their cafeterias. That’s close to 12 million straws per year that will no longer be entering our oceans or landfills. The participating schools have also put up my Skip the Plastic Straw posters to inform kids and staff of the change and hopefully inspire them to also skip the plastic straw even outside of school.
I also present to schools and youth groups on the harmful effects of single-use plastic straws and plastics. Speaking to kids in classrooms and auditoriums helps me connect with a peer group that is going to be crucial in creating change going forward. During the pandemic, my sister Ella Lin and I created and launched Skip the Plastic Straw YouTube Channel, called Sustainable Sisters, to help promote eco-friendly brands and practices. We see this as another platform to reach out to people and to raise awareness on the harmful effects of other forms of single-use plastics and ways we can choose to lead a more sustainable life. So far we have launched five videos. Please check them out.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Newport Beach and there are so many sights and experiences I would love to share. I would definitely take my best friend standup paddleboarding or kayaking around the Newport harbor, and hang out at the amazing beaches nearby like any in Newport Beach, Corona del Mar’s Main Beach, or Huntington Beach’s Dog Beach. My favorite places to eat are In-n-Out, Muldoon’s Irish Pub, Ruby’s Diner, Hopdoddy Burger – I like burgers! I would also take her to Disneyland, just because it’s Disneyland!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Many people contributed to my success, but here are a few who deserve recognition: I want to thank Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, which fueled the fire of my passion and gave me even more tools to succeed. I would like to thank PADI and Project AWARE, which partnered and supported me throughout my campaign; and Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California, which offered unwavering support from the start by inviting me to speak to kids at its weekly summer camp since 2018. I would also like to thank all the school districts and organizations that have joined me in Skipping the Plastic Straw! And of course I would not have been able to do this without my family — mother, father and sister — who have been so supportive with my campaign since its inception.