Zero waste is the goal for dozens of Wilton residents who have signed up with Wilton Go Green to take the zero waste challenge.

The first week of the challenge — the last week of March — was to use reusable grocery bags, instead of plastic store bags, which have been found to be a menace to the marine environment.

The second week of the challenge, which is this week, is to stop using plastic straws, said Daphne Dixon, executive director of Wilton Go Green.

When ordering drinks at a restaurant, residents who take the challenge will have to specify to the waiter or waitress no straws are wanted. When getting fast food, they should tell the cashier they do not want a straw, and just sip from the cup after removing the lid.

At home, the challenge takers should use reusable straws that are either glass, silicone or stainless steel.

What’s the big deal over plastic straws? Dixon said in a prepared mailer they are the 11th most found item of ocean trash, and are most often not made of a type of plastic that is accepted by recycling programs.

Straws end up in landfills, or worse, polluting the oceans, she said. They are not biodegradable, only breaking down into smaller pieces. Degrading plastic releases chemicals that are toxic to wildlife and the environment, she said.

There are a lot of straws in the fast wood waste  stream, because 50 million fast food meals are served per day in the U.S., according to Dixon. The average time these plastic straws spend on the earth is 90 years, she said.

The Zero Waste Challenge will continue for a couple of months, with a new challenge each week. It was kicked off at the recent Zero Waste Faire, held at the Wilton High School field house.

Tammy Thornton and Nicola Davis, members of the Zero Waste Faire Committee, developed the Zero Waste Challenge as a way to engage people around embarking on a zero waste lifestyle, one week at a time. Over 50 people signed up for the Challenge at the Zero Waste Faire, that was held March 25.

“And  we are getting emails every day from more people who want to participate,” Dixon said. “It's not too late to be part of the challenge and people can jump in at any point. We have received emails not only from Wilton residents, but also from  Fairfield, Westport, Stamford, Weston and expect to receive emails in the coming weeks from more Wiltonians and from people in towns throughout Fairfield County.”

Those interested in participating may  send an email to Daphne@livegreenct.org with Zero Waste Pledge in the subject line.