When Sydney Bitar, a sophomore at Loyola Academy, saw the documentary STRAWS at a film festival in Chicago, its message about the damage of single-use plastics on the earth’s oceans and waterways resonated.
“I grew up always caring about the environment,” said Bitar.
Bitar loved the idea that changing a small habit such as using straws could actually make a big difference. “It is such a tangible and simple thing to do,” she told DailyNorthShore.
Bitar realized she could also help raise awareness of this issue by purchasing the licensing rights when the option was offered during a discussion at the festival. When she went on to claim the title Teen Miss Great Lakes in April, Bitar realized she had a platform to share this important environmental message.
On June 9, Bitar will host STRAWS at Skokie Theatre for a free viewing. The movie coincides with World Ocean Day, which is on June 8.
“I am so pleased to screen this film,” Bitar said. “Bringing our community together to watch STRAWS will undoubtedly inspire people to change their personal use of straws and other single use plastics, while also encouraging dialogue with businesses and community leaders,” she said.
Bitar may to be onto something. A growing awareness of the environmental damage of straws and other single-use plastics appears to be gaining momentum nationwide.
On May 31, Bon Appetit, a large food service company, announced it is banning plastic straws at all 1,000 of its cafes in 33 states with plans to complete the transition to paper straws by September 2019, National Public Radio reported. The Chicago White Sox became the first major league baseball team to ban plastic straws, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Municipalities are also taking action. Plastic straws are banned in Miami Beach, Florida, Malibu, California and Seattle, while New York City is considering a ban of plastic straws in restaurants.
STRAWS is narrated by actor Tim Robbins and is both educational and entertaining, Bitar said. Screening the film is part of her responsibility as Teen Miss Great Lakes. Each girl must have an environmental platform that she advocates on behalf of, Bitar said.
Bitar first became interested in pageantry as a way to channel her interest in fashion and modeling. When she attended a local workshop on the Miss Earth United States pageant system, Bitar realized she could also explore her passion for environmentalism.
“I liked how each girl advocated for the environment and decided to join this system,” Bitar said.
As reigning Teen Miss Great Lakes, Bitar will compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C. in July for the title of Teen Miss Earth United States. As she works toward this competition, Bitar plans to continue to raise awareness of the environment.
“STRAWS” will show at Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Avenue in Skokie on Saturday, June 9 at 1:30 pm. For more information go to www.skokietheatre.org.