By Michael Abeyta
DENVER (CBS4)– Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs on Colfax Avenue in Denver is a popular place to grab a bite to eat and something cold to wash it down with.
Owner Steve Ballas is used to hearing from his customers, but it was a letter he received in March that got him thinking.
Steve reads the letter, “To Whom It May Concern, I go to school at Teller Elementary and I’m in the 5th grade. I love to eat at Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs but…”
Steve stops and shouts, “But!? I’m like ‘but…?’”
This letter is from Rebecca Roalson, a fifth grader at Teller Elementary School which is just down the street.
Steve continues to read the letter, “You use a lot of plastic straws. Using so many plastic straws is very bad for the environment. I’m asking you today to start using reusable straws. We use enough plastic straws to wrap around the Earth two-and-a-half times every day.”
Steve pauses and looks into the distance, “That’s a lot of straws.”
SHARE YOUR STORY: Share A Together 4 Colorado Story Idea With CBS4
Rebecca, along with her class, was assigned to write a letter to their favorite restaurant to ask them to ditch plastic straws. She and her classmate Perry Honey Hochstadt chose Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs and asked Steve to stop using plastic straws.
Perry explains, “It’s killing animals and hurting the ecosystem.”
Meanwhile Steve wasn’t sure how to respond, “I thought, how am I going to answer this letter?”
Rebecca and Perry didn’t think their voice would be heard.
Rebecca says, “I was not expecting to get a letter back.”
They were right. They didn’t get a letter back. Instead, they got pulled out of class and shuffled into the auditorium. Where Steve was waiting, to deliver some good news.
Because of their letters, he’s switching from plastic straws to eco-friendly straws at both Steve’s locations.
“This straw is 100 percent compostable and it’s made from plants,” said Steve.
The students each received a plaque and their class got a coupon for free ice cream from Steve because he wants them to know, their voices matter.
“Just because you are in fourth grade or fifth grade… you got an idea, share it. It might be a good idea,” said Steve.
Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.