In recent times, plastic straws have been shunned due to its impact on marine animals.
One video in particular has stood out:
Now, numerous purportedly more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws have sprouted, such as metal straws and rice straws.
Very fresh idea
One rather innovative solution that has surfaced are straws made out of grass.
In a Facebook video that has since garnered more than 1.5 million views and 27,000 shares, Vietnamese Tran Minh Tien shows how he goes about his business of manufacturing grass straws.The straws aren't just made from random weeds, but a specific species of grass from the fields of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, called Lepironia articulata.
The sedge grass grows wild in the wetlands of Vietnam, and is long with a hollow stem.
From grass to straw
What is the process of transforming a stem of grass to a fully functional drinking straw?
Here is the entire procedure, which Tran detailed in the video.
After the grass is collected, they are washed, and then neatly cut into 20cm tubes.
The insides of the hollow tubes of grass are then cleaned using a metal rod.
The straws are carefully rinsed a second time, and then packaged into bundles using banana leaves. Very environmentally-friendly.
And viola! Grass straws ready to be shipped and used.
Straws are single-use but biodegradable
The grass straws made by Ong Hut Co., the name of Tran's business, come in both 'fresh' and 'dry' versions.
Freshly cut straws can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and in room temperature for up to a week, if not in use.
To make the dried straws, fresh straws are left out in the sun to dry, and then baked in an oven.
These are able to last much longer than fresh straws, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Both types of grass straws are intended for single-use only in F&B restaurants. However, Tran and his team encourage those who purchase the straws for personal use to reuse them at home.
The straws are not treated with any chemicals or preservatives and reportedly have a mild and pleasant natural fragrance.
Best yet, the straws are biodegradable.
If you're still uncertain about using plants to drink, you can check out Ong Hut Co.'s FAQ here.
Currently, the grass straws are only shipped within Vietnam.
What about metal straws?
While metal straws have become a trending alternative to plastic straws and can be reused numerous times, it is not biodegradable.
This means that it cannot decompose into organic matter, unlike grass straws.
Although reusable, metal straws still involve the mining of heavy metals themselves, which entails a whole host of environmental impacts such as water pollution and loss of biodiversity.
Therefore, these alternatives to plastic straws have their own set of pros and cons which consumers will have to weigh.
Top photo from Ong Hut Co.