Ocean Heroes Spotlight

Chloe Mei teaches California to Skip the Plastic Straw

September 21, 2019
Chloe Mei smiling, straws collected from beach in hand

Chloe Mei Espinosa (11, Newport Beach, CA) has a passion for scuba diving among tropical reefs, which initially inspired her work to protect the oceans by reducing plastic straw pollution. In April 2018, the then 11-year-old researched and created her own website, Skip the Plastic Straw, as part of a 6th grade project to educate people about the harmful effects of single-use plastic straws and collected 1,300 pledges.

After attending the 2018 OHBC in New Orleans where she learned about supply chain and how to recommend changes, Chloe Mei returned home and within two weeks convinced the Newport Mesa Unified School District, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, and Capistrano Unified School District to stop using plastic straws and offer only biodegradable alternatives. By signing up these 128 schools to her “Skip the Straw” campaign, Chloe Mei has removed ~5 million straws from distribution each school year since 2018.

In 2020, Chloe Mei signed up another 117 schools, the Pali Institute Outdoor Camp, and the Hoag Memorial Hospital Group [hospitals and centers in Southern California] with the commitment to remove single-use plastic straws from all of their facilities going forward.

Chloe Mei was named “One of the 100 Most Influential People in Orange County” by the Orange County Register; and received the Ocean Hero Award from OCEANA, the Young Superhero for Earth Award from Captain Planet Foundation, and the Junior Philanthropist Award from PMMC. In 2020, she was selected as one of 10 global finalists to be the Time / Nickelodeon “Kid of the Year!”

Chloe Mei also attended Bootcamps in 2019 and 2020 and has served as a youth mentor during Bootcamps to train other Ocean Heroes how to create systemic change within their school districts and change supply chain purchasing behavior. She recently started a YouTube channel with her younger sister called “Sustainable Sisters” where they review and recommend sustainable products available in the market to other kids.

In 2019, Chloe Mei was featured on the Kelly Clarkson Show with fellow Ocean Hero Cash Daniels of Chattanooga, TN. Watch their interview below: