Mary E. Finn first-grader campaigns to reduce the use of plastic in Southborough

By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Aahna Ashnar with her poster
Photo/ Melanie Petrucci

Southborough – Aahna Ashar might be pint-size but she isn’t afraid to do her part to reduce the use of plastic in the town of Southborough. Aahna, 6, just finished first grade at the Mary E. Finn School.

Aahna is a soft spoken child, but she speaks up when it comes to the environment. She explained that it was her father who first explained to her about how it isn’t good to waste plastic.

“The first time Aahna empathized with the plight of marine animals surviving with plastic in the oceans was when she saw a video of a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. Instead of feeling helpless, she took it upon herself to do something about it,” shared Aahna’s parents, Himanshu Ashar and Kinjal Raval.

“At the beginning of the year Aahna came up to me and asked me is she could put up a poster in the cafeteria about the use of plastic and its impact on sea life, and I said ‘Sure,’” Principal Clayton Ryan explained. “So she put it up and then over the course of a couple of weeks other posters came up.”

From that one poster, other students were inspired to create their own.  They had, at one point, about 50 posters all around the school.

Ryan said that the focus of the posters was minimizing the use of plastic and straws and thinking about alternatives.

An environment group of about seven like-minded students was then formed with Aahna as its leader.  The group’s main concern was the impact of plastic on the environment.

“She has shown remarkable leadership qualities to create awareness of this issue at school with her friends as a team, which was completely her own initiative,” Asher noted. “Her initiative has the potential to improve lives as well the environment and as parents, we are extremely proud and supportive of her in this project.”

Activism starts at a young age at the Mary E. Finn School, an early childhood education center from preschool to first grade.

“About two months ago, Aahna wrote a letter to the town selectmen asking if they could think about creating a bylaw, which could be voted on, to minimize plastic use and maybe do away with plastic straws in schools,” Ryan noted.

She said that the selectmen seemed willing to think about adopting a future bylaw to minimize plastic use.

In the meantime, Aahna has plans to continue working on environmental issues when she moves on to the Albert S. Woodward Memorial School, where she plans to join the school’s Green Team.

Community Advocate Staff: