Zero-Waste Option: Replacing Plastic Straws with Sedge Grass Straw
Sedge grass is a type of grass in the water area, from ancient times people know the use of the grass used to make mats, hats and baskets. Today, in order to protect the environment and reduce plastic waste, some countries has successfully researched and produced straws from eagle grass material.
As concerns about the plastic crisis mount, one of the items that must go are plastic straws. This is not as easy a task as it seems it could be. Many people rely on straws or prefer them, for a variety of reasons. Therefore, an eco-friendly option to replace plastic has become a necessity.
Several ideas have come about in response to this growing demand. People all over the world have come up with new, more sustainable materials to make straws from. One of these ingenious solutions comes from a young Vietnamese entrepreneur who recently released a straw made of wild grass. It has quickly become a grand success and anyone who uses one, or finds out about them, absolutely loves them!
The young Vietnamese, Tran Minh Tien, the owner of Ống Hút Cỏ., a company that makes two kinds of straws out of sedge grass. He arrived at the innovative idea of using a species of grass called Lepironia Articulata, locally known as co bang, which grows around the Mekong Delta region in southwestern Vietnam, through his desire to do something to help in the battle against plastic.
Also, sedge grass straws are making a big come back in Uganda. A local company, ‘‘Our Roots’‘ has discovered it is the perfect natural replacement for plastic drinking straws.
The natural straw manufacturer was founded in March this year with just $55. It has 3 full-time employees and 10 others who work part-time. They go into the wild in search for sedge grass and bring them to life.
“These straws, long ago our ancestors used them for drinking the local brews, called Malwa in Luganda, and these straws, they used to get them from their gardens and other places. So we saw that it could be a great opportunity for us to fight single use plastic straws with the plant based ones”, Co-founder of Our Roots, Akram Ssemambo said.
Ssemambo has used the money he’s made since then to expand the business. It now boasts of eight regular clients.
“We use three steps of sanitizing our straws. So we wash them and then boil into hot water. We bring them for sun drying, and then after sun drying, we take them into a microwave, and then we pack so they are ready to use”, he said.
Ssemambo charges about 25 cents per straw and gives discounts for bulk purchases. A Kampala-based restaurant, Yujo Izakaya is first to stock the natural straws.
“It’s been received very well. Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, the customers have enjoyed that each piece has its own style and they understand that they are making their own effort as well to participate in this effort that growing number of people are trying to make”, Managing Director of Yujo Izakaya restaurant, Hanif Rehemtulla said.
Sherry Sakwa is delighted about the natural straw.
‘‘This is the first time I’m seeing it. Before I’ve used the paper straws and the plastic that are very common everywhere. But I would absolutely use them at home, because I feel like you can clean them better and, I mean, it’s natural”, the customer said.
Sedge grass straws decompose in three weeks while plastic ones are estimated to decompose in 200 years.
The straws can be washed and re-used. The company hopes to see plastic straw use in Uganda cut by 45 percent over the next five years.
‘‘Our Roots’‘ also wants to teach people how to make the straws at home for themselves.