Each year, there is a staggering 8 million tons of plastic finding its way into our oceans. Among these are the plastic straws that are used daily. The United States alone uses and discards about 500 million plastic straws each day, and this impacts our Earth in a huge way.
An innovation by a Vietnamese man named Tran Minh Tien has shown how a certain type of grass named Lepironia articulata that is prolific around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is converted into drinking straws.
These straws do not contain any chemicals and preservatives. And most importantly, they are biodegradable.
In a video posted on Facebook, Tran Minh Tien, the owner of Ong Hut Co., explains the entire process of making the grass into straws.
First, they collect the hollow stems of grass, which are washed and then cut into 20-centimeter lengths. The tubes are then cleaned on the inside using a metal rod.
After another round of washing, the straws are bundled together and finally wrapped in banana leaves. Ingenious!
The straws come in two versions: one fresh and another dried.
The fresh ones can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks, or kept in room temperature for a week. Meanwhile, the dried ones are laid out in the sun for about 2–3 days, then baked in an oven. These last much longer, up to six months in room temperature.
These straws can be used only once in restaurants and can be reused multiple times at home.
A dried straw costs about 4.3 cents while a fresh one costs about 2.6 cents.
The video posted on Facebook has garnered over 2.1 million views and has been shared over 35,000 times.
Social media users have praised the efforts of this youngster.
One user wrote, “One step closer to a plastic free world👍 keep up the good work.”
Another commented, “need to grow this on a mass scale. no more plastic straws.”
“This is a great, sustainable straw. I love it,” a third one enthused.
A fourth one wrote, “Thanks to help save the planet, no more plastic.”
The company has also specified how to use these straws on their website.
Before using the straw, one can soak it in either water, soapnut, salt water, or even boiled water. They also request that after one uses a straw, it should be thrown in a compost bin.
These grass straws, which have a natural smell, can only be purchased in Vietnam at the moment. Perhaps the rest of the world will get to experience them in the near future.