When marine biologist Christine Figgener filmed a heartbreaking video of her team removing a plastic straw stuck inside a Olive Ridley sea turtle’s nose near Costa Rica in August 2015 (watch video below), she had no idea how the video would help galvanise a larger movement: saying NO to single-use plastic straws.
Today, companies like Starbucks and American Airlines, have taken the step to eliminate plastic straws from our day-to-day lives. But this has posed a bigger challenge - finding sustainable alternatives.
The paper straw has always been around but not without its demerits of getting soggy and not lasting till the last sip. Well, now some innovative companies have developed straws that you can not only sip, but also eat!
Vietnam-based Ống Hút Cỏ offers fresh, natural, biodegradable straws that are made out of grass that grows naturally and abundantly in Vietnam. Ống Hút Cỏ even says that chewing them after meals can actually help clean your teeth and gums.
Then there is UK’s Stroodles which offers straws made out of pasta.
Flavourless, biodegradable and zero-waste, these pasta straws are all edible and make a great snack. After use, you can even boil them to make pasta. Made from wheat and water, they last for more than an hour and if you decide not to eat them, you can add them to your compost heap - they will decompose and biodegrade in one single day, compared to paper straws, which can take up to a month to fully decompose.
Indians too can now be a part of the movement.
Two Indian companies have introduced edible straws that you can use - and eat - without worrying about contributing to plastic pollution.
Don't throw your straw, just EAT it
Started in September 2018, Nom is the brainchild of Shashank Gupta.
Worried about the plastic straw problem and how it is destroying our Oceans and our Planet, Shashank says, “Plastic straws are everywhere. The world uses 3 billion straws every day, with the US alone accounting for more than 500 million straws per day!”
That’s why he conceptualised the idea of edible straws and Nom was born.
The Nom edible straw is 100% plant-based and is made from more than 15 ingredients that are completely safe and fit for human consumption. The straws are made from basic daily ingredients like wheat flour, rice flour, zero calorie natural stevia, vegetable sunflower oil, flavours, cocoa powder, etc. And it’s 100% biodegradable, causing no harm to the environment.
Shashank adds, “What’s more, it never changes the flavour or taste of the drink so you can freely choose whichever flavour you like and club it with your favourite beverage. Use like a straw, Eat like a snack.”
Nom straws are available in 6 flavours: Vanilla, Strawberry, Lemon, Mint, Coffee and Chocolate.
Nom straws are compatible with milkshakes, thick shakes, bubble tea, cold coffee, juice, cocktails, mocktails, basically all types of drinks.
They don’t melt and don’t break.
Currently, Nom straws are sold via the website, www.thenom.in, but they are going to go live on Amazon this month itself.
The company also has an offline distribution channel in India and 6+ countries where they are serving Nom edible drinking straws.
Straws are getting ‘Smaart’er!
Another innovative company, Smaart Eats has launched its Smaart Rice Straws, 100% edible, biodegradable and affordable straws made of high-quality rice.
The texture of these durable rice straws is harder than the regular plastic straws, so they won’t melt in your drinks when you’re using them. They’re also available in a variety of sizes (6.5, 8, and 13 mm) and appealing colours (gray, white, purple, green and orange).
Made from high-quality rice grains, they are perfectly safe for human consumption. You can even use them to feed your pet fishes!
What’s more, with almost no odour, these rice straws remain perfectly neutral and will not alter the taste of your drinks.
After use, you can conveniently dispose them as regular straws and would not have to worry about environmental pollution anymore as they decompose easily. The easy-to-use Smaart Rice Straw has been tested to be absolutely safe and hygienic.
Vishal Laddha, Co-Founder, Partner & CEO, Smaart Eats, says, “The biggest problem with single use plastic is it takes over several 100 years to decompose. According to a study made by the United Nations, it is estimated that up to 13 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans each year. Fish, seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals often become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation, and drowning. We at Smaart Eats believe that even a small change can create a big impact. That’s why we thought of rice straws.”
Smaart Rice Straws are made of rice flour, tapioca starch and water. A kilogram of this mixture can make approximately 100 straws of standard 8.00 mm x 20 cms.
Currently the company sells these straws in the B2B segment, directly supplying to 5-star hotels and there is a plan to create a distribution channel in the coming months. Smaart Rice Straws are also available for purchase online on the company’s website www.smaarteats.com.