Food businesses large and small have stopped using plastic straws in recent times. Some have chosen to forgo straws all together, while other have chosen the paper straw. Both approaches are helping the environment, which is all well and good, but it is hard to deny that some drinks just call for a straw, and that paper straws, well, kind of suck (as say the millions of complainers on the internet). Do you know anyone that actually likes paper straws?
Now one company based in Tokyo is offering a natural solution to the drinking straw issue. Maybell Japan Co Ltd has launched “greener nature straws,” made of grass of the species Lepironia grown on a pesticide-free farm in southern Vietnam. This grass has naturally hollow stems, so all it takes to turn them into drinking straws is harvesting, washing, cutting into straw-size lengths, and drying in a special oven.
The resulting straws have the crisp, thin texture so desirable for straws (and so lacking in paper straws) and are completely stable in liquids. They are 100% biodegradable and can be stored for up to a year after the manufacture date.
“Why are companies spending so much resources trying to develop biodegradable plastic straws or nicer paper straws when the perfect straws are just growing out there?” says Maki Yasuda, CEO of Maybell Japan. “That’s what I thought one day this winter when I was reading some news on the topic, and then remembered having used nice grass straws on vacation at a resort a while back. I thought wait, why don’t people use that here?” After several months of research, working with partners in Vietnam, product testing, and developing the brand, “greener nature straws” was born.
“Everyone knows the issue with plastic and the environment, so I didn’t think it was necessary for greener to keep telling people about the evils of plastic, poor sea turtles, SDGs and such. We are all aware of those issues. I wanted greener instead to be about how nice it is to drink from a straw made of real grass; how it makes you feel to be using an all-natural product that is environmentally friendly; how great the grass straw looks in a tall iced drink. I want greener to have this happy, kind, positive vibe.”
This approach seems to be working, with the Prince Hotels of the Tokyo metropolitan area coming on board as one of the first businesses to adopt greener nature straws. More establishments and retailers are on way, which Maybell Japan hopes to announce via the greener brand’s social media in coming times. The straws are also available for retail, with 12-straw packs currently available on Amazon.
“If there is one drawback to these straws, it is the price,” says Yasuda. “Compared to plastic and paper straws produced on an industrial scale, it is several times more expensive. But we’re talking just 1 or 2 yen for plastic straws used by restaurants, so even if greener straws are more expensive it’s still not a huge amount. Restaurants work on a pretty tight margin so inevitably many need to be quite cost-conscious. Hence, those adopting our straws will first be the more upscale places in town, or shops that are specialized in say, organic or natural food, which can get enough value out of using our straws to make sense of the price. I hope eventually, more and more people in the industry will see how much customers like being served drinks with greener straws and see that it is worth the little bit of extra cost.”
For more information:
Maybell Japan Co Ltd
Tel: 050-5240-5412© Japan Today