Thirteen-year-old Kiara MacLean from Newcastle, Australia, is doing her part to help protect marine environments from single use plastics. Inspired by a documentary she watched about plastic in the oceans, Kiara decided she no longer wanted to use plastic straws — one of the biggest polluters of marine environments. Instead, she decided to make stainless steel straws and her small business Sprocket and Steel was born.

A few years ago I watched a documentary about Garbage Island in the Pacific. I’ve always loved drinking out of straws but after watching the film, I decided I wouldn’t use plastic straws ever again. I decided to make stainless steel straws with some help from my Mum’s friend.

Plastic straws are littered everywhere and I have been helping clean up the local beaches with the Merewether Beach Clean group. It is sad see animals dying because of our rubbish. We need to protect the environment, so the animals have somewhere to live.

I make the straws in our workshop at home. I started off making some prototypes that looked like the plastic straws I liked best. Then I measured them against the drinking glasses in our cupboard to get the bend in the right spot. I package each straw in packaging my Mum and I make using recycled card that is biodegradable, with cleaning instructions and a pipe cleaner.

I sell my straws at the local markets, on the website, Facebook, Instagram, through word of mouth and we have stockists in NSW, QLD, SA and VIC. For every 100 straws we sell, we donate a box of straws to a family staying at Ronald McDonald House. The most amount I’ve made in one day is 250. Most of our straws are made to order.

My biggest client is Scoop Wholefoods.

Buying one stainless steel straw means never needing a plastic straw again. This translates into less plastic straws littering the environment and ending up in the ocean harming the sea animals.

I am inspired when I see how many people love the straws. They are so inspiring to talk to because they are aware of the impact they are making on the environment and they want to change and make a difference.

We are now making three different straws including smoothie straws, standard straws and cocktails straws. Between making straws, homework and spending time with friends, I don’t have time for much else.

Buy some of Kiara’s stainless steel straws on her website