Grass straws could help keep plastics out of oceans

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In Vietnam, entrepreneur Tran Minh Tien is converting Lepironia articulate, a ubiquitous grass in the Mekong Delta, into biodegradable drinking straws.

Tien founded Ong Hut Co. to collect the grass, which is washed and cut to straw length. A metal rod is further used to hollow and clean the grass. Ong Hut’s straws are bundled in banana leaves and sold throughout Vietnam.

Fresh “straws” cost 2.6 cents and can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks or at room temperature for 7 days. Dried straws, which are subjected to a drying process, cost 4.3 cents and are good for six months at room temperature.

Each year 8 million tons of plastics end up in the ocean.