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Biodegradable Straws: The Impact of One Boy’s Advocacy

When seven-year-old Benjamin visited our Freeport store in November of 2018, he had a simple request for the staff of our café: could he have a paper straw for his lemonade?

Benjamin’s request came from a very thoughtful place. As a passionate young conservationist, and a dear friend of sea turtles, he knows that millions of marine animals are killed every year by plastic in the ocean. Plastic straws are part of the problem.

When Benjamin learned that our café only had plastic straws, he wrote a letter to our President and CEO Steve Smith, asking if we could opt for paper straws instead of plastic. It was just the kind of wake-up call we needed.

Like Benjamin, we’re also passionate about conservation. People from across the company jumped at the chance to immediately shift from plastic straws to paper. By early 2019, our store café switched to 100% corn biodegradable straws, and all of our corporate cafeterias quickly followed suit.

Steve applauded Benjamin's activism as proof that caring can make a difference. "Thank you for the polite, reasonable, intelligent activism—you made a difference in this great world, defending those who cannot defend themselves."

L.L.Bean President and CEO Steve Smith with young environmental activist Benjamin.

In response, the seven-year old thanked us for saving the sea turtles. He also shared his L.L.Bean story with classmates and not surprisingly got a round of high fives. Even better, his teacher informed the principal who is now looking to follow in Benjamin's—and L.L.Bean's—footsteps by eliminating plastic straws too.

Thank you, Benjamin, for reminding us that the outside is a place for all of us – including sea turtles – and we all have a part to play in keeping it clean and safe.

Benjamin’s Letter:

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name is Benjamin. I’m seven years old and I live in Pennsylvania. I'm writing to you because I'm a friend of the Sea Turtles and I want to protect them. Every year more than 100,000,000 marine animals get killed by plastic in the Ocean. Plastic straws are very dangerous because they can get stuck up the turtles' noses and they drown.

In November me and my family drove up to Maine to celebrate Thanksgiving. We stopped at L.L.Bean for lunch. My mom ordered a lemonade for me and the lady asked her if she wanted a straw. I asked if it was a paper straw, and the lady said no. Then, I talked to my mom about writing a letter to you to ask if L.L.Bean could use paper straws instead of plastic straws at the cafe.

The Sea Turtles are important to the ecosystem and me. I know that L.L. Bean cares about the Earth too. If it is possible, could you use paper straws instead of plastic straws, please? I will be at L.L.Bean in early June if you would like to talk to me about it.

Your friend,

Benjamin B.

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