SARATOGA SPRINGS – She's now a full-fledged business owner, but a couple of years ago, Jill Fecteau was just an upset consumer at a restaurant.
"They bring us the two glasses with plastic straws in them and I totally went off. I was just really upset and really angry, like "We didn't ask for these, what is wrong with this, this is such waste."
Long aware of the dangers associated with disposable plastics, that event at a bar in Boston was the last straw for Fecteau.
She channeled her frustration over single-use straws into action, starting a non-profit called Earth's Last Straw and when the 2011 Bethlehem Central graduate wasn't working two jobs, she'd meet with Saratoga Springs restaurant owners, urging them to stop serving plastic straws, telling them, "It's good for your business. It looks good. It's good for the planet. You'll never lose customers because of it, but you'll gain customers who say, "This is really awesome that this company decided to go plastic free."
Each time, the restaurant would ask how much.
"And I said, 'Oh, no. Give me a few more days.' I'd find out the price difference."
And that's how Earth Sunflower began. Connor, her then-boyfriend (now-husband) convinced Fecteau that she was doing the work of a sales consultant without getting paid.
So she now sells reusable bamboo straws and utensils made by artisans in India, and organic cotton produce bags. No plastic whatsoever, not even in packaging.
"Another big pillar of Earth Sunflower is education. It's activism. It's going out in the community and telling people about single-use plastics and why they're detrimental not only to the environment, but also to our bodies."
You can buy Earth Sunflower's line online at earthsunflower.com and at local stores like Old Saratoga Mercantile on Route 29, whose owner, Christina Myers also uses Jill's products.
"They're really easy to wash actually. They're dishwasher safe as well. And I don't know, I just feel kind of cool using them," said Myers.