Sometimes it feels like you can’t really make a difference in the world, or make your voice heard, even when you’re fighting for a good cause. It’s especially difficult when you have to convince people to change their way of doing things.
But it turns out that, sometimes, all it takes is a thoughtful letter.
And in the case of one pizza chain, a letter from a 5-year-old girl.
Pizza Express is a chain of pizza restaurants based in the UK, with over 470 locations. It’s a big, successful business, so any widespread policy changes wouldn’t be taken lightly.
But one of their biggest fans had a major problem with the restaurant, one she wasn’t willing to be silent about:
At 5 years old, Ava is already ahead of the curve on environmental issues. She’s aware of the recent, growing movement to reduce the use of single-use plastic straws, which are used in pretty much any drink served at a restaurant.
They’re so ubiquitous that we barely notice we’re using them, but these tubes of plastic actually have a growing environmental impact.
According to National Geographic, Americans use 500 million straws daily, and since they’re virtually never recycled, they end up in the ocean, where they pose a threat to fish and animals.
Ava frequently visits Pizza Express with her brothers, so she’s noticed how many straws go to waste during their visits.
So she decided to ask them to stop using plastic straws.
In a thoughtful, handwritten note sent to the company, Ava asks that the chain reassess their straw policy.
“When I get my drink it always has a plastic straw in it,” she wrote. “I am writing to please ask you to stop using plastic straws as they are very bad for animals. They can get stuck in their mouths and noses.
“Could you only use straws if people ask for them as I don’t want any animals to get sick.”
Ava sent her letter to the company, and apparently it made its way all the way up to their headquarters.
Because soon, Ava got a response from the company—and it was huge news.
“We pride ourselves on listening to our customers,” the chain wrote, posting Ava’s note on their Facebook page. “It spurred us to make a change.”
“We are now phasing out single-use plastic straws from all our 470+ restaurants from this summer, and we’ll be replacing them with biodegradable and recyclable paper versions.”
That’s a pretty huge win, especially for someone so young. There are many environmental groups working to protect the oceans by encouraging people to do away with single-use straws, but they’d be wise to take a page from Ava: a nice letter goes a long way.