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As seasons change and our countdown to the fifth year of No Straw November begins, let us take a moment to reflect on the four past NSNs we have celebrated so far! Our first year was full of optimism and hope to help communities rebuild after Hurricane Harvey. As a past National Gold Award Girl Scout, I knew the heart of the community lives within youth organizations such as the Girl Scouts. Our first year helped support Girl Scout Troops affected by the hurricane so they could bring the cheer back into their communities, all while raising awareness of plastic pollution.

Our second year hit home for me as it helped protect one of my favorite gems along the California coastline. For our second No Straw November patch, Jr Ocean Guardians raised money for the Friends of the Elephant Seal in Piedras Blancas. Friends of the Elephant Seal is a fantastic organization that focuses on accessible education and protection of Elephant Seals. They maintain a boardwalk accessible to all, and every docent is genuinely the most passionate person you will ever meet.

The third year of No Straw November helped raise awareness regarding the issue of plastic production plants in the United States and how those factories can be detrimental to the Earth and communities in which they are built. Plastic pollution is an issue that is often not viewed through a multi-dimensional lens as most people don't question where the actual plastic is created. Most petrochemical plants in the United States are in Black and Brown communities, and our goal of No Straw November's third year was to raise heightened awareness that there is much more to plastic straws than getting stuck in turtles noses. Within a few months of releasing our 2019 NSN patch, we could have never imagined that the world would also be wearing masks like our otter.

When thinking about what to do for our fourth year, it appeared that our social climate at the time was centered around one event… the election. While maintaining bipartisanship Jr Ocean Guardians pushed for voting and voter awareness as the future of our environment was at stake. Most participants of No Straw November are younger Girl Scouts and school-age children, and they are passionate about their future. While our younger activists can't vote yet, Jr Ocean Guardians was beyond proud to have been able to have our patch be a conversation starter to explain the voting rights of each American citizen. We are thankful our No Straw November took place during such a historic win for the environment.

As we move into the fifth year of No Straw November, it was almost impossible to pick a theme. When reflecting on what essential issues we wanted to highlight, we concluded that there was one environment often overlooked in conversations.

Without the Arctic, we are nothing.

The Arctic plays a significant role in not only maintaining our Earth's health, but it also plays a vital role with Indigenous leadership. With global Indigenous communities continuing to face various issues from climate change, colonization, and social injustices, we look to and acknowledge their leadership within all environments. We recognize the genocide Indigenous communities face(d) culturally, physically, and spiritually.

In the Arctic, we hear daily about Arctic oil drilling and commercialization plans for arguably one of the most fragile natural resources we have left. While political efforts and agendas shift every four years, we need a collective consciousness of Arctic issues to avoid losing one of our biggest hopes for our future. More to follow on this year's mission soon!

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported No Straw November, whether you've been with us from the beginning or joining us this year. We appreciate you so much for understanding that you have the power to make personal change while also holding corporations and elected officials accountable. No Straw November was created before skipping the straw was a trend, and we want to make it very clear that Jr Ocean Guardians does not stand for shaming those who medically rely on single-use plastic straws. We all can make a difference in this world, and we thank you for sharing all your inspirational stories!

Keep Making Waves 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊


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