It has been over 100 years ever since the invention of plastic – the miraculous material that has created outstanding developments of the world industry for its incredibly cheap price, high flexibility and the versatile uses. However, the good golden era of plastic has resulted in serious consequences for our polluted environment,all animals being choked and killed by the plastic that they thought was food and especially human ourselves.
As the plastic waste crisis is increasing alarmingly, humans are coming up with new, eco friendly non-plastic material to reduce the pollution caused by plastic (scientifically, plastic takes 10-1000 years to decompose). And one of the items that’s leading the “non-plastic material” trend is definitely biodegradable straws: which are basically straws made from natural plants like grass, rice, bamboo and woods.
Straws made of wild grass is the brilliant zero-waste option of a young Vietnamese farmer named Tran Minh Tien. The source material is harvested from Lepironia, a type of wild grass that grows alongside the Mekong Delta, then washed and cut into suitable size and cleaned with a metal rod on the inside to eventually be shipped to the customer in banana leaves wrap-up.
The lepironia has a large diameter and a hollow stem so they’re naturally shaped as a straw, surprisingly. Despite being a single-use product, they super easily decompose after use. Unlike the industrial manufacturing process of plastic straws, grass straws are still currently manually produced. This is amazing because it won’t only provide a biodegradable daily-use product, but also help conserve the ecosystem and shelters of wild insects and animals by growing more of natural grass. They last up to 2 weeks in refrigerator.
There are two types of grass straws available on the market: the fresh straws which cost about 2.6 cents each and the dried straws which cost about 4.3 cents each, a bit more expensive than the ordinary plastic ones, but much better for the environment. Unfortunately, these amazing straws are currently only available in Vietnam market.
As for the name, rice straws are made from rice, cassava flour and tapioca starch (the main ingredient to make tapioca balls in milk tea), some very common ingredients in the Tropics, which makes them 100% edible and super easily biodegradable. They’re durable in cold/normal water for about 30-90 minutes without falling apart or melt in liquid.
Unlike grass straws, rice straws have more colors, stained from turmeric, carrot and beetroot powder. With diverse designs and the resilience, rice straws are just as convenient as the ordinary plastic ones, completely suitable for drinking coffee, beer and all kinds of beverage.
They cost only 0.9 USD per package of 30 straws, a pretty low cost for the environment protection.
Bamboo has long been a familiar manufacturing material. In the situation of the plastic waste crisis, bamboo is proven to be one of the best and most realistic material to make straws. Therefore, bamboo straws are of the most common green straws in many countries of the world. Made 100% out of bamboo, these straws are the strongest and most durable organic straws out there. They’re super thick, don’t transfer heat (which is suitable for hot drinks)and is hard to break, they can even last for a year or more when properly cared for.
When you buy a set of bamboo straws on the market, you usually get an attached cleaning brush. Not to mention, these straws take a small amount of time: 4-6 months to decompose in the environment, that is if they’re not to be eaten by a hungry panda.
They’re on sales with the price at 10-15 USD per package of 8.
Ever since the campaign “say no to plastic straws” began in 2015, million-dollar incorporations has been replacing plastic straws with their most ultimate option – paper straws.
Made of paper, they have the biggest advantage of being almost immediately biodegradable depending on the content of cellulose in their materials.
However, they can quickly become soft in both hot and cold drinks, which might accidentally create the race between you sucking your drink in and the time before the straw becomes mushy. Recently, although there has been some argument on the benefits of paper straws since scientists say they require even more energy and resources to produce than the plastic ones, it can’t be denied that paper straws are still one of the best alternative solution to save the environment for its easy decomposition.
Paper straws are produced with diverse and eye-catching designs, priced at about 7 USD per 100 straws, incredibly cheap and convenient.
Plastic has saturated our environment. Eight million metric tons of plastic overall end up in the ocean every year. Among those, 500 million plastic straws are used everyday in America, and most of them too are thrown away, polluting the water and killing marine lives. These natural green straws are probably the leading flags to save our planet. Not only cheap, convenient they’re also eco-friendly and completely biodegradable, which causes no harm to the environment nor human and animals’ lives.
A small action will create big impact since the problem isn’t going to solve itself. We had a good time with plastic product, but if we’re not careful, we may end up losing our beautiful planet and eventually start the era of great extinction.
We hope the information above could help you understand the pros and cons of the green straws above, and if you’re willing to be a part of this “Earth-saving” movement, you can start by purchasing some little packages of eco straws, share it with your loved ones, your family and your friends. Who knows, maybe you’re the one responsible for the change of the world because you, with your own effort, can change the world for the better, just by starting with these little straws.