Shelby O'Neil, Girl Scout Gold Award earner saves the world one straw at a time

Girl Scouts of the USA has been building strong women since 1912

Shelby O'Neil, a seventeen-year-old Girl Scout from California's Central Coast was appalled to learn that nearly 500 million disposable plastic straws are thrown away each year in the USA alone and many of this waste ends up in our oceans.

As she had been a long time volunteer for the aquarium and other environmental protection activities, she decided to take action and make the reduction of plastic straws the theme of her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Shelby O'Neil created Jr Ocean Guardians where she educates grade school children on the importance of recycling and what kind of alternatives there are to single-use plastics and organized beach cleanups.

She called up businesses and spoke with CEOs to encourage them to waste less plastic.  Within a few months, four companies were on board and made commitments to eliminate more than over 27 million unnecessary single-use plastic straws, stirrers and citrus picks.

But she didn't stop there,  she went to her state legislature with her findings and concerns were heard and aided in the passing of SCR 139, where California officially proclaimed it No Straw November.

Shelby O'Neil's No Straw November Movement encourages people who do not medically need to use a straw to politely decline.  While she and her supporters, that include Leonardo DiCaprio who featured her as a guest author on his foundation's website, would rather this movement extend well-beyond the month of November, building momentum around this and getting people to participate in No Straw November is a start.

Shelby O'Neil saw a need and took action to make changes.  This helped her earn the most prestigious award in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award, but there are more than 50 million living former Girl Scouts in the country who got their start through Girl Scouting.

In fact, Hector Cantú and Carlos Castellanos, the creative team behind hit cartoon Baldo made sure to show how Gracie got her start as a change-maker and love of Chica Power!


Girl Scouting is an indelible part of pop culture.  You can't go a day without seeing or hearing a mention on the news or in a movie or TV show.  On October 30, This Is Us showed Beth as a proud Girl Scout Cookie mom to adorable daughters Tess and Annie. Mackenzie Hancsicsak, who plays young Kate took Twitter last year thanking her team at This Is Us for helping her support her Girl Scout Troop.

Many successful women from every perceivable background and occupation spent time as Girl Scouts.  Some famous formers include: Reese Witherspoon, Sheryl Crow, Marta Stewart, Mariah Carey, Lisa Ling, Dakota Fanning, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Margaret Hoover, Sandra Day O'Connor, Condoleeza Rice, Gwyneth Paltrow and her mom Blythe Danner, the late greats Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and so many more.

Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald, Chief Girl & Family Engagement Officer for GSUSA explained the importance of Gir Scouting.

"We are moving at the speed of girl.  We are readying girls with the leadership skills needed to take on the world's most pressing problems," said Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald.

There are currently 2.6 million girl and adult members and they have great things to say about this 106-year-old organization.

"Overall, I just love the all-girl environment.  It is such a supportive group.  I just feel the family love everywhere I go.  It really teaches you important skills," said Shelby O'Neil. "I would tell every girl 100 percent to join.  It has definitely made me who I am today.  It is such an amazingly supportive environment.  It is a pressure-free environment."

Shelby O'Neil and Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald spoke with Michelle Tompkins for Stars and Celebs, the new home of The Celebrity Cafe about Jr Ocean Guardians, what is the No Straw November Movement, why Girl Scouting is important, what advantages Girl Scouting offers, what kinds of scholarship and business opportunities are available to girls who earn the Girl Scout Gold Award and much more.

See this enlightening interview with Shelby O'Neil and Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald here:

Note:  Michelle Tompkins was a former employee of Girl Scouts of the USA, but remains a lifelong Girl Scout. 

More information on Shelby O'Neil, No Straw November and Girl Scouts of the USA may be found here.

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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