"Don't Be A Sucker" Campaign Gaining Traction In Tucker

Don't Be A Sucker TuckerFor most teenagers, summertime is an opportunity to relax, hang with friends and mentally prepare for the school year ahead. Leah and Sydney Shankman did some of that, but they also launched a project they’re hoping can make a difference around the world.

The twins, rising ninth-graders at Lakeside High School, have been active with the Girl Scouts for eight years. This year, they were tasked with coming up with an idea for their Silver Award: identify a problem in your community and find solutions to make it better. As the sisters debated what their project should focus on, the answer actually came to them on YouTube.

“We saw a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose,” Sydney recalls. “I thought, ‘That’s terrible. I don’t want anything like that to happen in our world.’”

And so the sisters had their project: “Don’t Be a Sucker in Tucker”. The idea was to encourage local restaurants to stop offering plastic drinking straws to customers. The difference might be small from a global perspective, but the girls hoped it would make a huge difference here in the City. The next step was to find a restaurateur that shared their vision.

“We went to one of our favorite restaurants in the Tucker area: Local 7,” Leah says. “We talked with the owner and the employees. We asked them not to [give out straws]. Once you put a straw on a table, you can’t use it again.”

Local 7’s general manager Luis Finley was impressed by the girls and told them he wanted to help.

“They came in and were so articulate and excited about this cause,” Finley recalls. “For us, this was an easy change to make…and the customers and the community have been really receptive.”

Patrons of Local 7 are now greeted with signs on their tables explaining the “Don’t Be a Sucker” campaign. They also have to ask for a straw with their drink, rather than simply being provided with one.

With one restaurant onboard, the girls have developed a website to further promote their efforts and spread the message to other restaurants. They say the pitch is very simple.

“Americans use 500 million straws a day. Skip the straw. Are they really necessary?”

The sisters are hoping that for more and more restaurant owners and patrons the answer will be “no” and that their summer project will lead to a safer world for wildlife.

If you want to follow Leah and Sydney’s progress visit their website,www.dontbeasuckerintucker.com.

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