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 man’s name is Tran Minh Tien, and he is 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.
The sedge grass has a hollow stem, so it is naturally already straw shaped. The straws come in two versions, one being dried and another fresh. Tran explains in a video on Facebook by VnExpress International how the grass is turned into straws:
- The grass is grown, harvested (collected), washed, and cut into lengths measuring 20 centimeters (about 8 inches).
- Next, an iron rod is used to clean the inner part of the straws.
- Then, they are washed and rinsed out one more time.
- If they are to be sold fresh, the process is done and they bundle the ready to use straws together using banana leaves.
- If they are to be sold dried there is more work to be done. They must leave the straws under the sun for two to three days and then bake them in an oven.
The fresh version can be stored for up to two weeks, refrigerated and kept in airtight bags. If you want to make the fresh straws last even longer, the company’s website suggests boiling the straws with some salt, letting dry, and then storing in a cool dry place.
The dried version can be stored at room temperature for up to six months.
Both kinds of grass straws are edible and chewing them after meals can actually help clean your teeth and gums, according to Ống Hút Cỏ. They are also compostable, free of chemicals and preservatives, and are affordable.
They sell them in bundles of 100 with one dry straw costing 1,000 Vietnamese dong ($0.043), and one fresh straw costing 600 Vietnamese dong ($0.026). At the moment, these grass straws are currently only available for sale in Vietnam.
Zero Waste Saigon is another Vietnam-based company that sells grass straws made from the Mekong Delta’s wild grass. Their straws are from a different manufacturer than Ống Hút Cỏ.