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Molly Steer: Changing the world one straw at a time

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

We’ve all heard someone tell us “you can change the world”. However, how can normal young people like us possibly make a difference? I’ve always thought that I was way too young to do something, until I heard Molly Steer’s story, a normal 11 year old girl, who decided to change the world.

Molly was just 9 years old when she launched the “Straw No More” campaign in 2017, that encourages every school in Australia to stop using single-use plastic straws in their school tuckshop and canteen.

In April, she went to see a movie with her mum called “A Plastic Ocean”. We asked her why she went to see the movie and she told us…

“Back in April 2017, my mum had planned to see the movie A Plastic Ocean with her friend. But that afternoon, my brother and I had been fighting pretty bad, so her and dad made the decision to separate us. My brother stayed home with Dad, and I went with Mum.”

Sea Turtle with Straw up its Nostril by Sea Turtle Biologist

During the movie, she learnt about the harmful effects of plastic. She learnt that they never ever break down and that are oceans are filled with plastic which harms marine life, so Molly, who dreams of being a marine biologist, decided she had to do something about it.

“On our drive home from the movie that night, I was talking to mum and telling her how I wanted to help somehow. Mum told me that the best way to start anything is to start small.

Straws were the smallest plastic thing I could think of.

I learned later that mum didn’t mean small things, she meant start the campaign small.

But whatever, I went with straws and that worked out pretty well!”

Molly Steer and Craig Reucassel from War On Waste who supported the StrawNoMore campaign and took it to a national and international audience.

Molly stopped using straws herself, and convinced her school canteen to do the same. Her campaign gained an incredible amount of momentum and last year she convinced the Cairns Regional Council to become a #StrawNoMore council and stop using single-use plastic.

Next year, every local government in Queensland will adopt the campaign and stop using plastic straws and single use plastics in their daily operations.

Molly Steer and Dr John Rumney from Great Barrier Reef Legacy

And two years after she founded her campaign, Molly hasn’t slowed down. We asked her what her next step is and she said,

“StrawBassadors are the next focus. Strawbassadors are kids - just like me, who are fed up with plastic pollution. Ordinary kids who have an extraordinary mission: to help save the planet from suffocating in plastic. I would love to see a STRAWBASSADOR in every school in Australia showing their friends an alternative to plastic straws. Going out into their local communities and asking businesses to make better choices. Speaking to the Mayors and Councillors in their towns and creating change.

We have had about 200 join up so far, and I want more!”

We asked Molly what she would say to people who tell her she’s too young to be doing what she’s doing and she said,

“I get that a lot. And so does my mum. People think that she is the one driving this. She certainly does a lot of the background work, like answering emails and all the social media.

But this is really important to me. I love the ocean and it makes me really sad to see plastic rubbish floating in the ocean. This product has only been around for about 60 years compared to the Great Barrier Reef, which has been here for about 18 million years.”

According to the Straw No More, more than 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the USA alone. This is enough to wrap around planet Earth 4 times!!!!!!

Molly gave a TEDx talk last year, making her the youngest person to do so, and she also won the Cairns Young Woman of the Year Award, Queensland Young Achiever of the Year Award, Cairns Regional Council Young Person of the Year Award and the Cassowary Award.

However, Molly’s just like us. She has a normal life with a normal routine. During the week, she does some swimming, gymnastics and it’s her job to walk their dog FruitLoop. After school she does her homework and packs her lunch for the next day.

She has three younger siblings - Joe is 9, Rosie is 7 and Audrey is 5. Molly explained that after dinner, they have the “two song tidy” “ it’s this game my mum made up where we play two songs quite loud just before bedtime, and all the kids run around the house picking up all the toys and clothes that are on the floor.”

Molly’s the perfect example that we can all make a difference, no matter how young we are. She’s a normal girl who leads a normal, happy life. However, she saw a problem in the world and had the courage and willpower to start fixing it.

Molly Steer, an 11 year old girl has changed and is still changing the world.


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