‘theotherstraw’ is a social enterprise started by Chile-based couple Lennart and Jamie Lee that is replacing single-use plastic straws with reusable, ethically sourced bamboo straws.
Plastic straws are one of the most picked up items during beach clean-ups. As many as 8.3 billion plastic straws were found to pollute oceans and other water bodies all over the world. Around 1 billion plastic straws are produced every single day and each straw that was ever used still exists. It is estimated, that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fishes which gives us a reason to either stop using them or replace them with something more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Lennart and Jamie-Lee, who lived by the beach in Santiago, Chile were deeply impacted to see the damaging effects of single-use plastics such as straws on the marine ecosystem. The frustration prompted the couple to start ‘The other straw’, an initiative to replace plastic straws with straws made out of bamboo, which is more sustainable and better for the environment.
Since their straws are reusable and reusable straws are a relatively newer concept for food businesses, they focus on educating them on how to clean the straw and the need to use these eco-friendly straws to help their companies grow, not only in terms of profit but also in terms of sustainability. In addition to introducing eco-friendly and recyclable straws, they also work to empower many underprivileged families and communities and provide them with new opportunities. Interestingly, they engage ethnic minority groups to design, grow and harvest their straws. They also ensure that their workers receive fair wages and healthy working conditions. As seen by them as their responsibility towards the environment, they give 50% of their profits to ocean cleanups to accomplish their goal of plastic-free oceans.
Since their establishment in October 2018, they have sold over 60,000 reusable bamboo straws, prevented over 5 million single-use plastic straws from entering landfills and oceans. The team has hosted 5000+ conversations about plastic waste and pollution with businesses and individuals, educated over 11,500 individuals and businesses on the impacts of single-use plastic straws and their plastic footprints. They have supported over 45 ocean cleanups and have provided over 50 fair and sustainable jobs to the Hmong Ethnic Minority Group in Northern Vietnam. They have been recognised by ING Dreamstarter, have been awarded Westpac and Allens Social Enterprise Award, have been SPARK Deakin Accelerator Program Participant and have been the Deakin Community Bank Grant Recipient.
This initiative is a major step towards making the world realise the need for sustainable development and to stop using single-use plastics which continue to pollute our surroundings and degrade our environment. Initiatives like the ‘other straw’ motivate not only individuals but also corporations and businesses to take constructive steps on the impending climate emergency. The team now through their venture The Last Object is making sustainable alternatives to all single-use items to reduce the stress on the exhaustive resources of the planet.