State Rep. Mike Chapman speaks to fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School about straws. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

State Rep. Mike Chapman speaks to fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School about straws. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

State legislator talks with students about straws

PORT ANGELES — State Rep. Mike Chapman visited some of his youngest constituents last week to discuss impacts of plastic straws on the environment.

Fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School were assigned an opinion essay and have been researching the impacts of disposable straws on the environment — and they have made their opinions known to the Port Angeles Democrat.

Some are for banning plastic straws, some are against it and some want to strike a compromise. Teacher Wyndi Anderson said the conversation at times had “heated up,” which led to students writing to Chapman.

“My office did receive some emails from some of you and I really appreciate that,” Chapman said on Tuesday. “It might seem like you’re only in fourth grade … but you are taxpayers and that’s who I work for. I work for you.”

Chapman is one of three legislators representing District 24, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

Chapman told the class that as state lawmakers considered legislation this year that would have banned plastic straws and plastic bags, he heard from many who advocated banning straws and plastic bags and from many who opposed such a ban.

Chapman, who is in support of banning plastic bags and promoting paper bags, said he was frustrated at how close the plastic bag ban came to passing through the state Legislature.

The measure passed through the Senate but failed to get through the House.

Chapman told the class that some of his older constituents can get “grumpy” when the topic is discussed.

“Your letters will move me more because it is your generation going forward when we talk about things like climate change and what’s good for the environment,” Chapman said.

Fourth-grade student Josh Freeman shows state Rep. Mike Chapman his reusable straw. Fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School have been researching the impact disposable straws have on the environment and have been in contact with Chapman’s office. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Fourth-grade student Josh Freeman shows state Rep. Mike Chapman his reusable straw. Fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School have been researching the impact disposable straws have on the environment and have been in contact with Chapman’s office. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Students told Chapman that they learned that plastic straws are washing up on beaches, harming turtles and are polluting the environment.

Some students said an outright ban on plastic straws wouldn’t be good for people who may need straws.

Chapman said he has heard from people who are disabled and who may not be able to pick up a glass.

“They do need to use a straw,” he said. “There are other straws that are recyclable and washable.”

Student Josh Freeman showed Chapman a glass straw that he uses at home. He said he got it from Pike Place Market in Seattle.

As Freeman showed off his washable straw there were several “oohs” and “aahs” from his classmates and from Chapman.

“That’s really cool,” Chapman said.

Another student brought a paper straw, which isn’t reusable but is biodegradable.

“There’s a mill that sits out on our waterfront that’s empty right now … but their business model and their plan is to use 100 percent recycled paper, recycled bags and recycled items like paper straws,” Chapman said. “They are looking at creating like 200 jobs in our city at really good wages.”

Chapman told students that the fiber from paper can be used “over and over again.”

One student showed Chapman the silverware packages students get to use with their meals. Wrapped in plastic is their plastic silverware and a napkin.

“It’s a big waste because if you only want the napkin, you have to throw everything else away because you’re not going to use it,” the student said. “It’s not good for our environment because we’re taking away resources.”

Chapman told the students that there are a few ways to go about reducing the number of plastic straws that are thrown away.

He said the Legislature can do an outright ban, but he said companies also can be pressured to reduce their impact on the environment.

“Some of the big food corporations are looking at that,” Chapman said. “If your generation on up starts saying ‘we don’t want plastic straws,’ the business community will make paper straws affordable. They always have.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

State Rep. Mike Chapman speaks to fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School about straws. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

State Rep. Mike Chapman speaks to fourth-grade students at Jefferson Elementary School about straws. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

More in News

Abby Counts, 8, with assistance from her father, Taylor Counts, an EMT with Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue, gives a newly acquired tender truck a ceremonial wash down during a push-in ceremony on Saturday at the district’s Station 22. The truck, tender 22, cost $459,439 and was paid for by the fire district’s 2020 levy lid lift. Saturday’s ceremony also included a blessing by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and a “push-in” of the truck into its berth. The tender replaces a 31-year-old truck that had reached the end of its useful life. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
New tender

Abby Counts, 8, with assistance from her father, Taylor Counts, an EMT… Continue reading

The 95 Port Townsend High School seniors walk through the rhody garden at Fort Worden State Park on their way to the graduation ceremony on Friday. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Graduation walk

Port Townsend, Chimacum ceremonies

Lands commissioner wary of federal plan to kill thousands of owls

Washington’s public lands commissioner, Hilary Franz, is voicing skepticism about a federal… Continue reading

Operations scheduled at Bentinck range this week

The land-based demolition range at Bentinck Island will be… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Matt Larson of Sequim, who uses the radio call sign KC7EQO, tunes into a ham radio satellite during Saturday’s Radio Field Day at the Clallam County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles. The annual event, hosted by the Clallam County Amateur Radio Club, brought together amateur radio operators from around the world in a contest to make as many radio contacts as possible in a 24-hour period as a test of emergency preparedness from remote locations. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Testing the system

Matt Larson of Sequim, who uses the radio call sign KC7EQO, tunes… Continue reading

Best of the Peninsula.
Voting round open for Best of Peninsula contest

It’s time again to vote for the Best of the Peninsula. Now… Continue reading

Port of Port Townsend focusing on five capital improvement projects

Stormwater improvement in permitting phase; construction may begin this year

Clallam County Sheriff Brian King, right, carries a ceremonial torch with Special Olympian William Sirguy, center, accompanied by his mother, Katie Sirguy, during Friday’s Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run along the Waterfront Trail in Port Angeles. The event, designed to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement, brought together law enforcement officers from Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties for a march across the North Olympic Peninsula. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Torch run

Clallam County Sheriff Brian King, right, carries a ceremonial torch with Special… Continue reading

Groups back natural gas initiative

Signature-gathering efforts end July 5

Pictured left to right, Ginny Wagner, Xxzavyon (XJ) Square, Ewan Mordecai-Smith, Elise Sirguy, Mahayla Amendolare and Mallory Hartman cut the ribbon of the little free library at Jefferson Elementary School on Friday. (Darlene Cook)
Students come together to promote reading literacy

Free library constructed near Jefferson Elementary