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Philadelphia Fourth-Graders Convince UNO Pizzeria & Grill to Go Strawless

A class of fourth-graders at Wallingford Elementary School in Delaware County, Pennsylvania sent letters to the CEO and owner of UNO Pizzeria & Grill, asking him to change the franchise’s straw policy.

The CEO, Jim Ilaria, was so moved by their letters that he responded by changing UNO’s straw policy from giving them out freely to request-only. Ilaria is a former employee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and he was thoroughly impressed with the students’ well-researched essays.

Ilaria told Kevin Tustin with Daily Times: “They had aimed them (their letters) to my heart and my business mind. They were so well done and it was almost a plea, a no-brainer: Why do we hand out straws except for on demand?”

Ilaria also told NBC Philadelphia: “My franchise thought it was the right thing to do for the environment. Our franchise partners got behind this right away.”

Related: Strawless in Seattle: Tutta Bella Champions Eco-friendly Efforts

The students’ fourth-grade teacher, Susan Knight, said that the students began researching in late February on the impact plastic has on the environment. The class then wanted to reach out to restaurants near their elementary school, so they began with UNO.  After they mailed their essays, Knight said she received an email from Ilaria who said not only did he change the policy, but that he also wanted to throw them a pizza party.

“It was a wonderful meeting of children with a passion and an adult in a position of power to make change, like serendipity,” Knight said.