In Bengaluru, civil engineer Shiva Manjesh and childhood friends Jagadish Raj and Naveen have launched a business providing castor stems as a plastic straw alternative. The three have sold over a thousand castor straws to vendors in nearby cities. “I heard from my grandparents that castor stems were used as straws in villages,” Manjesh tells Deccan Herald. “We had forgotten about the use because, in the city, plastic had been convenient until now.”
Manjesh says that he grows a specific type of castor plant at his farm. The stems are washed with saline and shaped. Dried straws have a longer shelf-life, although fresh stems are fine for one-time use.
Raj says the trio have had order requests for 12,000 straws, but they are still waiting for a lab report from the Central Food Technilogical Research Institute before officially launching wider sales.
“The government bans plastic but gives no substitutes,” Raj adds. “We offer one, and I hope they see it’s a small solution to our looming plastic problem