We use them and throw them without care…it’s the plastic straws that we’re talking about. In the US alone, a staggering 500 million plastic straws are thrown each day. They, along with other discarded plastic items, find their way into the oceans and turn up inside the stomachs of dead whales, turtles, and other sea creatures.
Almost eight million of this killer plastic, which is not biodegradable, since it’s made of crude oil, is thrown in the garbage every year that finds its way into the oceans. When this plastic, including plastic straws, begin to decompose, they further pollute the oceans by releasing harmful toxins, such as BPA. This impacts the Earth in most adverse ways.
The focus of the world has turned towards finding ways to remove this plastic waste from the oceans with the help of many anti-plastic groups. Although biodegradable alternatives for plastic straws, in the form of reusable metal straws and eco-friendly and disposable rice straws have been introduced, they have not really caught on.
Here’s a Vietnamese man named Tran Minh Tien, who has come out with another biodegradable alternative for plastic straw. He harvests a type of grass, called Lepironia articulate, commonly found around the Mekong Delta in Vietnam that can be used as a straw. Of course, being of plant origin, these straws are devoid of harmful chemicals and preservatives.
These natural straws come in two variants – green grass straws and dried grass straws, both one to two years old. They both have an inner diameter of 4.5 to 6.5 millimeters (0.17 to 0.25 inches) and in both cases the straws are cut with a sharp knife to a size ranging from 18 to 22 centimeters (7 to 8.6 inches), depending upon the preference of the customers.
What’s really great about these straws is they have an absolutely clean inner velvet surface, so it’s safe to be used without additional cleaning. Green straws can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, but should ideally be used in one to three days. Dry straws, on the other hand, can be kept for up to six months.
Tran Minh Tien