The sad reality is that the Philippines, in a 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy, is the third largest source of discarded plastic that ends up in the ocean, next to population giants China and Indonesia. Plastic straws for your to-go drinks, among the many single-use plastic used and thrown away everyday, are one of the biggest contributors in this problem.
While going plastic-free is easier said than done, more and more eco-friendly options are now available to replace that plastic straw for when you’re quenching your thirst with an ice-cold drink. These three plant-based alternatives are prime examples.
When you attract positive attention in a space where call-out culture is thriving, it most likely means that you’re doing something right. Editha Cafe, a food and beverage stop in Siargao Island, has gone viral recently for its use of lukay straw for drinks. Lukay is the local term for palm leaves.
Its owner, Sarah Tiu, says the straw is “easy-to-make” and “decomposable.” Those who are interested in making their own lukay straw can watch the cafe’s tutorial on Youtube.
A straw that you can eat is certainly eco-friendly. Enter the rice straw, an alternative to its plastic counterpart developed by a Korean company. It is made up of seven parts rice flour and three parts tapioca powder, and is harder than a plastic straw. Its owner and creator, Kwang-Pil Kim, chief executive officer of Seoul-based company Yeonjigonji, says it does not affect the taste of the drink, even though it slightly smells like rice.
The rice straw biodegrades in just 100 days, unlike those made of plastic, which takes about 200 years. It is available for purchase online and retails for 8,500 won or PhP 382.16 – 32,500 won or PhP 1461.19, depending on the number of pieces per order.
Opting for a bamboo straw is a choice that’s sustainable for both the user and the environment. Contrary to popular belief, bamboo is not a tree but a flowering plant from the grass family. It does not require artificial pesticides to flourish, too, and it grows 1,000 times faster than most hardwoods.
Kawayan MNL’s bamboo straws are made from organically grown and harvested bamboo in Bantayan, Cebu. It also supports a partner social enterprise, which provides sustainable livelihood to residents of rural communities. The bamboo straw set with a pouch and cleaner retails for PhP 120 to PhP 180, depending on the addition of a milk tea straw, via Beauty MNL and zero-waste fair The Good Trade.
The recently-concluded London Marathon is earning praise from all over the world for its effort to reduce plastic waste. During the race, the organizers are handing out edible and biodegradable water capsules, instead of those in plastic bottles.
Called Ooho water, the capsule packaging are made of natural seaweed membrane, yet another sustainable option, as it is one of the most abundant resources and the fastest growing, too, at up to a meter per day.
“Events like this are really impactful in terms of the amount of litter that they generate,” says Ooho co-founder Rodrigo Garcia in a Reuters report. “If it falls in the ground, it’s like leaf so it will start to break down within a couple of days.”
For now, Ooho, which can also be a sachet for condiments like takeaway ketchup, are available in London, United Kingdom.
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