Straws developed in Vietnam, which go back to the origin
The image of plastic straws, as if they were a symbol of marine plastic waste, is becoming established. In the first place, how long has humankind started using straws? According to a theory, it dates back to the ancient Mesopotamian civilization around 4000 to 3000 BC. It is said that reeds, which are hollow and straw-shaped plants, were used to suck the clear liquid at the bottom of muddy beer.
There are some radical opinions that today we do not have to drink beer in that way and do not need straws anymore. On the other hand, it is also true that straws are convenient goods for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Although there are various discussions about the value of straw, research and development of alternative materials, such as those made from papers or are biodegradable even though they are plastics, has progressed considerably.
Meanwhile, the orientation of a startup company Strawlific, based in Vietnam, is going back to the origin. There are two types of materials, reed, which is a raw material of the ancient straws mentioned above, and sedge, which is a plant very similar to reed. The company has partnered with local farmers who have been cultivating these plants for a long time in the tropical wetlands around Ho Chi Minh, the capital, and sells them as straws that are made from natural materials and will return to the soil.
The advantage of the reed and sedge straws is that their carbon footprint is far less than those of paper and plastic straws. The process of commercialization is very simple: pick, cut, clean, sterilize, and package. It manufactures its products at a sustainable pace by minimizing mechanization and leaving many of the processes manual.
There are two types of products, disposable and reusable. The “Sedgy” Straw made from sedge is disposable. It is able to withstand from ice water to 110 degrees Celsius, and the warranty period is 12 months from date of production. “Windy” Straw is more durable than Sedgy, is reusable, and is made from reed. The size varies from diameter 5mm for cocktails to 20mm that is available for smoothies and tapioca. They are hallmarked in durability since sedge and reed have traditionally been used in personal belongings such as hats, bags, rugs, and blinds.
Strawlific was founded by Hungarian environmentalist David Simon. Simon said in an interview with the Sustainability Times, “We use around 2 billion or even more straws per day on a global scale, and our habit of using straws is very likely to continue. By giving people a green alternative, we hope to reduce the number of plastic straws.”
While the number of restaurants replacing plastic straws into paper straws is certainly increasing, there are also complaints about paper straws, such as “they easily get soggy,” and “I feel the taste of paper.” It is good to use technologies to develop new products; however, the courageous decision of going back to the origin may be the most advanced alternative solution.