My name is Caroline Choi and I’m currently a high school student in Alameda, California. I’m also the founder and President of our school environmental and wildlife conservation club, called “Amplify” (aka Amplify the importance of saving our planet).
My town of Alameda has nearly ten different boba tea stores and my high school is located right next to many of them. At my high school, this popular drink can be found perched on brown desks, grasped tightly in students’ hands, and, most commonly, tucked away into grey plastic garbage bins.
The environmental issue with BOBA is clear: every part of the boba packaging, from the flimsy lid, to the thick straw, to the whole container… is plastic.
On the other hand, boba is creamy milk tea studded with squishy black pearls— it’s no wonder that it became my high school’s favourite drink. How could I reconcile environmental interests with drinking boba?
That’s where I, the avid conservationist/boba-drinker came in. I didn’t want boba in Alameda to fail, but, truth be told, the bigger issue was the immensely negative impact it has on the Earth. So, I came up with a project. My club and I started selling reusable boba kits, complete with a lid, glass container, and stainless steel straw. I reached out to the City’s Department of Public Health and Safety, ReThink Disposable, and Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA) for their support.
I decided to call my reusable boba kit campaign Straws of Steel.
Bolstered by all their support and encouragement, I visited the boba stores on Park Street and talked with the store managers. We were able to convince them that it’s worth it to incentivize the purchase of our reusable containers through offering discounts to those who bring them in. Negotiations on those discounts should be wrapped up by the end of this month.
Ideally, in one month, enough sales will have been made to re-audit the trash on Park Street and in boba stores. I’m excited to see the changes!