Anh Mai: Making a difference one straw at a time


Mai (10) poses with straws and says no to disposable plastic on May 16, 2019. Photo by Audrey Perry.

By Audrey Perry
One of the most hot topic issues in our culture right now is the matter of environmental change. Within the last few years global warming has increased and our effect on nature as a society has become increasingly negative and harmful. From pollution to deforestation to ozone depletion and ocean acidification, most of the problems were started by humans and therefore, we are the only ones who can make a change for the better. One person who is looking to make a difference is Lincoln High junior Anh Mai. She is taking initiative with her platform at LHS to work towards eliminating waste and protecting wildlife. Mai became interested in the this topic when she saw the most recent current events that were changing the world around her.

“I think it started hitting me seeing the past few years that we’ve had a lot of flooding, natural disasters, the Californian fires and all the hurricanes hitting Florida,” Mai said.

Mai had the realization that too many people were being ignorant about the topic and the ignored effects were taking a

“It’s finally impacting us and I don’t think people will realize that until it is too late,” Mai said.

Though it may seem difficult for teenagers to get involved in making a difference, Mai easily found a way to a platform where she could get support in her ideas. Because Mai is in student council she was able to form a committee to springboard the project.

“I’m apart of student council so part of that was making committees and then having a purpose for a committee or goal,” Mai said. “I wanted to ban plastic straws because a lot of kids don’t really use them and it’s not really necessary.”

She started out by researching more information about the environment and the effects of plastic and waste around the world.

“I am researching many topics, one being about the effects of climate change, such as global warming, shortened life expectancy, the extinction of species… [and] some of the statistics of the past few years of how plastic has affected the world we live in today,” Mai said.

To continue looking at how she could ban straws and make Lincoln High less wasteful she took her own initiative by creating a google form to survey some of her classmates about their own opinions on plastic waste. Some of the questions asked about how often students use straws and whether or not they would be willing to give them up. It also left room for students to leave suggestions on how LHS could improve in accessibility for recycling and waste prevention.

“I did a survey on whether people use straws or not at Lincoln High asking if it is really necessary that we use plastic straws or not and pointing out [that] at Lincoln high, it really hits home for us,” Mai said. “It’s good to know what your peers are saying about so just bringing that type of stuff up and looking into easy ways to reduce plastic waste.”

Mai plans to bring her research and results from the survey to Mr. Larson to collaborate with him in working towards eliminating plastic straws, utensils, and possibly other modes of reducing waste.

“I hope that I can convince Mr. Larson to cut back on the plastic straws and maybe get rid of them completely,” Mai said. “ I am trying to get Lincoln High to stop providing so many wasteful and non-biodegradable materials. I also am helping to plan a trash pick up at Lincoln High.”

Mai has started working on ideas to expand on her statistics as well to actually put her plan in action.

“Maybe find a company that can pair up with us to provide metal straws for the students. If it was offered here I think more people would buy them… and want to get rid of plastic waste and try to convert to using metal silverware, because right now we only have plastic silverware available,” Mai said. “I think if we had metal utensils available people would use them.”

For now until all her research is done, Mai is working on making an effort in her personal life to reduce waste and be mindful of the environment. She helping her friends and peers by offering to take their recyclable products for them to help with convenience.

“I’ve been trying to cut back on waste products and trying to grab recyclable products from people I know personally,” Mai said. “I think a big thing about it is inconvenient for people who just want it to be really easy and quick.”

Mai (11) picks up trash from the outdoors on May 16, 2019. One of Mai’s goals is to make the earth cleaner place. Photo by Audrey Perry.

For now Mai will continue working with her committee and gathering information to discuss with Lincoln High administrators. To help her with suggestions or submit input for data gathering you can email her at