Meet Milo, founder of Be Straw Free
“Here’s the thing: this planet’s not a place that kids will inherit at some point, far off in the distant future. We live here right now, and we share this planet already.” - Milo Cress
Milo Cress, who was 9 when he started this project in February 2011, is the founder, co-director and primary spokesperson of the Be Straw Free project. He has pursued his interests in the environment and conservation from a very young age.
In 2007, at age 6, Milo was awarded the Mr. Peabody Award in Pinehurst NC for his design for a Solar-Powered Popcorn Machine. A few months later, after moving to Vermont, Thomas Hand (Hand Energy Services) and Jim and John Hand (Hand Motors), helped Milo build the Solar-Powered Popcorn Machine from Milo’s design. Milo and his Solar-Powered Popcorn Machine were featured in the Live Green Expo 2008 (Front page Bennington Banner, Sep 1, 2008), where he demonstrated it to then-Governor Douglas and the public.
Shortly after moving to Vermont, at age 8, Milo noticed that whenever he ordered a drink in a restaurant, it would come with a straw in it. This seemed like a huge waste because he did not usually need a straw. He wondered how many straws were used in the US every day and when he could not find any information on that, he decided to research it himself. He contacted US straw manufacturers whose estimates he collected indicated that, between all the straws handed out at restaurants, in hospitals, nursing homes, at convenience stores, schools, workplace cafeterias, on the sides of juice and milk boxes, etc., we use about 500 million straws per day.
Straws are small, but this adds up to a lot of unnecessary plastic waste!
This is when he decided to launch his project, Be Straw Free, to reduce our use of plastic straws. He encourages restaurants to offer straws instead of serving one with every drink automatically, and encourage consumers to order their drinks without a straw whenever they don’t want or need to use one.
His project gained press attention and quickly became a forerunner in the global discussion about reducing plastic waste. He has been invited to speak at conferences, organizations, schools, and met political and community leaders across the US and around the world. At 9 years old, he even testified before the Vermont House Legislature regarding his project and his work reducing plastic waste.
Today, Milo still runs BeStrawFree, along with his other interests. He is also currently pursuing his passions for computer programming and mathematics. Milo develops machine learning algorithms and advocates for the responsible implementation of Artificial Intelligence technologies. He testified again before the Vermont Legislature, this time regarding a bill addressing the responsible creation, development and implementation of AI.
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