Grass Straws from Vietnam Become A Great Zero-Waste Alternative to Plastic Straws

Grass Straws from Vietnam Become A Great Zero-Waste Alternative to Plastic Straws | Grass Straw

A Vietnamese entrepreneur is promoting an environmentally friendly way to sip drinks by using grass stems to make reusable, biodegradable straws.

Tran Minh Tien, 32, runs his company, 3T, from a village deep in the Mekong river delta, west of Ho Chi Minh city, where wild gray sedge grass grows in swampland. 

In a labor-intensive operation, hired hands work with Tien to pick the grass, cut it into uniform lengths and then clean straws before baking them in an oven or setting them out to dry in the sun for two or three days. 

Green grass straw by Zero Waste Saigon. Image:
Green grass straw by Zero Waste Saigon. Image:


Tien started his business in 2017, and the company now produces about 3,000 straws a day, making a profit of $400 a month. The straws can be used for up to six months, Tien said. 

But he knows his straws will not be a permanent fix given the limited supplies of the grass in Vietnam, the world’s fourth-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution, according to a 2015 study by the University of Georgia. 

“I came up with the grass straws as a temporary substitute to plastic straws to reduce part of the damage they cause to the environment,” he said. 

Grass straw. Image: TTXVN
Grass straw. Image: TTXVN


As demand has increased, Tien says he has to be careful about how fast he can expand his operation, 

“Right from the start, I formed this idea around the fact that the harvesting can never exceed the grasses’ natural reproduction rate,” he said.

“Nature has to have enough time to recover as well.” 

“I think switching from plastic straws to grass straws is quite an innovative move, but it will take a while for everyone to become accustomed to it,” said university student Le Hong Phuc, a resident of the capital, Hanoi.


Source : Reuters 

Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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