How a Vietnam company's creation is combating the plastic straw crisis

As plastic straw bans grow, grass straws could become an alternative

Photo courtesy of www.onghutco.com, Tran Minh Tien.
Photo courtesy of www.onghutco.com, Tran Minh Tien.

Many people feel there is a plastic straw crisis going in the world right now, with cities and countries around the globe banning them because of the reported harmful effects on the environment.

In light of that, one entrepreneur in Vietnam has produced a solution that is becoming popular in that country, according to an article on intelligentliving.co.

Tran Minh Tien has formed a company called Ong Hut Co. that makes straws out of sedge grass, which has a hollow stem and is naturally straw-shaped.

In an email, Tien said his product is more of a way to reduce the use of plastic straws, not completely replace them.

The straws come in two versions, one dried and another fresh. 

So how are they made?

There is a Facebook video detailing the process, which features cutting, cleaning and even a little baking.

When the straws are made fresh, the grass is cut into 8-inch-long pieces, and then the inner part is cleaned with an iron rod.

The straws are then washed and rinsed one more time before they are bundled up with banana leaves.

When the straws are made dried, the additional steps of leaving the straws under the sun for two to three days and then baking them in an oven are taken before they're ready to be bundled.

Photo courtesy of www.onghutco.com, Tran Minh Tien
Photo courtesy of www.onghutco.com, Tran Minh Tien

The website said the straws are free of chemicals and preservatives, and healthy for teeth and gums. 

The fresh version of the straws can be stored for up to two weeks through refrigeration and kept in airtight bags, but their shelf life can be extended by boiling them in salt and letting them dry.

The dried straws can be stored at room temperature for six months.

Currently, these straws are only available for sale in Vietnam, and Tien said he doesn't plan on having his company ship them internationally.

However, he said if anyone around the world has any friends, family or connections in Vietnam, he can have those people buy them in Vietnam and ship them.

Tien said the company has the capability of producing 60,000 straws a month, but he would have no problem educating others on how to produce them in other countries.

"In all honesty, we'd rather you support the establishment of similar factories in your local areas," Tien said. "This grass (Lepironia) is popular all over the world in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines, North of Malaysia, South of India, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Australia, South Africa, South America, etc.. You can find them in the wet-land with high acidic soil (from 4.5-6.5 pH)." 

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the country will ban certain types of single-use plastics, including straws, as early as 2021.

Is this a product you would buy and does it sound like a good alternative to plastic straws? Let us know in the comments below. 

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