Plastic waste and the pollution accompanied by it is a major crisis the world is facing now. Very recently China has announced plans to phase out the use of single-use plastics in their country. After carry-bags and bottles, plastic drinking straws are the biggest contributors of plastic waste on our planet.
National Geographic reports that over 500 million straws are used every day in just the US alone. A study also estimates that as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws are currently polluting our beaches. Many cities such as Seattle, Washington DC, have completely banned the use of plastic straws.
When you ban something, it should also come with a replacement or an alternative choice since products like drinking straws are used by a large number of people. Alternatives such as metal straws and paper straws exist are there but with some strong limitations. Metal straws are expensive and harder to keep clean while paper straws get soggy after being immersed in the drink for a while.
Tran Minh Tien from Vietnam has found a unique way to replace plastic straws. He has fabricated a biodegradable, eco-friendly straw using grass. The grass he uses – Lepironia Articulata is found in the Mekong Delta region in Vietnam. The chemical-free straws are also in fact, edible. It is said that chewing the staws after meals can help clean teeth and gum.
Tien uses the grass to make two kinds of straws- a fresh kind and a dried kind. The harvested grass is washed and cut into straw-sized-tubes. It is then cleaned and shaped using iron rods. Once the cleaning is done, straw is ready to use. This is called a fresh straw and lasts up to two weeks in a refrigerator.
For the dried variant, the straws are left in Sun for two to three days and then baked in an oven. It will last around six months. They come at a relatively cheap price of 600 Vietnamese dongs for the fresh ones and 1000 VDN for the dried ones per packet of 100.