STRAWS Project

Thanks to a generous grant from the Ocean Conservancy, Wake District rolled out a new initiative this spring called STRAWS, or “ Single-use Trash Reduction At Wake Schools,” in partnership with Wake County Solid Waste Management, North Carolina film director Linda Booker, and Friends of Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. The project provided participating Wake County Public School System middle and high schools with a film license to host their own screening of STRAWS, a 33-minute documentary that raises awareness of single-use plastic pollution. The film focuses on plastic straws, which rank as one of the Top 10 litter items collected globally. STRAWS was filmed by Booker and can be shown with the school license in perpetuity.

Enrollment totaled 104 teachers from 41 elementary, middle and high schools that engaged over 1,000 students in the STRAWS Project. Students in grades 5–12 learned what single-use plastics are and the harm they cause when littered in waterways and the ocean. Teachers also received STRAWS lesson plans and marine debris activities from the Ocean Conservancy that provide project-based STEM lessons that reinforce concepts introduced in the film while making them fun, meaningful and relevant to teenagers.

Student Videos Offer Solutions to Plastic Pollution

Students were challenged to create a 60–90-second video that creatively informs and persuades people to take action on reducing single-use plastics. Videos were supposed to hit on three key messages: 1) What single-use plastics are, 2) Why single use plastics are a problem in waterways, and 3) Provide a doable solution on how to reduce single-use plastics. Participating schools submitted their Top Three videos in a county-wide contest to win prizes and recognition.

Middle school and high school videos were scored separately by a panel of three judges. The top three middle school and high school winners received $100 each! View the winning videos below.

Top Three Middle School Videos

A. Tirado, 6th grade; Teacher: Patrick Faulkner, Ligon Middle School in Raleigh
G. Sanchez, 8th grade; Teacher: Melissa Pearce, Neuse River Middle School in Raleigh
S. Petty, 6th grade; Teacher: Lisa Meeks, Martin Middle School in Raleigh

Top Three High School Videos

E. Kim, 11th grade; Teacher: Carl Rush, Green Hope High School in Cary
A. Lozevski, 11th grade; Teacher: Donald Thomas, Cary High School in Cary
G. Wood, 11th grade; Teacher: Barb Magee, Green Hope High School in Cary

Honorary Mentions

High School
V. Upadhyay, 12th grade; Teacher: Carl Rush, Green Hope High School in Cary
S. Chang, 10th grade; Teacher: Kara Gensor, Holly Springs High School in Holly Springs

Middle School
Y. Zafirov, 6th grade; Teacher: Lisa Meeks, Martin Middle School in Raleigh
J. Castelino, 5th grade; Teacher: Wayne Shore, Fuller Elementary School in Raleigh


Thank you to our STRAWS Video Contest Sponsors:

  • Ocean Conservancy – International Coastal Cleanup
  • BY THE BROOK Productions – Film Director Linda Booker Royal
  • Wake County Solid Waste Management Division
  • Wake Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Friends of Wake Soil & Water Conservation District.

Also, a huge thank you goes out to our wonderful video contest judges: Christy Perrin, Hannah Barg and Katie Lockhart.