Design

Eat this edible straw after you use it to help save the environment

According to studies, there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish by 2050. A large part of this problem is America’s alarming plastic straw consumption – said to be half a billion straws yearly.

To help solve the waste dilemma, many environmentalists have launched anti-straw campaigns to discourage people from using the non-reusable material. Many, if not all, have failed.

So a startup called LOLIWARE has taken a different approach. Instead of telling consumers to avoid straws, they’re telling them to just pick the right one.

Enter the LOLISTRAW. It’s a seaweed-based straw that you can eat after you use it. The technology even allows the items to be infused with flavours and added nutrients, making it more than just a drinking device.

“From our perspective, the way to get our community involved, and the way to get the world excited about this new innovation is to embrace the fun,” co-founder Chelsea Briganti told Fast Company.

“You can imagine drinking your cold-brewed coffee with a vanilla straw or a caramel straw. We think that will really increase this movement around plastic-free, because we’re not telling the consumer, hey, you can’t have your straw. We’re providing them a solution to the plastic straw crisis while also giving them a fun experience on top of that.

“It’s not about the consumer sacrificing anymore, it’s about the consumer having fun and being sustainable at the same time.”

The straw, much like an earlier product by the company – the edible party cup – has a texture highly similar to plastic. So consumers won’t have to worry about their straws getting soggy, much like paper straws would.

And if you don’t want to eat your LOLISTRAW, you can just put it in a compost heap or dissolve it in water. Unlike their plastic counterparts, these straws don’t need a hundred years to break down, and they’re safer for aquatic animals to ingest.

The company’s goal this year is to replace millions of straws. Hopefully, consumers too will see the benefits of using LOLISTRAW, the so-called Future of Biodegr(edible).

We recently caught up with the LOLIWARE team to know more about their startup and their products.

What inspired you to develop a revolutionary, eco-friendly product like LOLISTRAW?

“The straw is a ‘small’ item and perhaps seems less important to address for that reason — but that’s precisely what makes it such an important issue.

“Small format single-use plastics are made from the same recyclable plastics as cups and bottles, but because they are so small they cannot be captured by the recycling waste stream because the equipment is designed to process those larger items.

“Six billion plastic straws are used annually, and the best case scenario is that they make it to the landfill, but more often than not, they are ending up as plastic pollution, and are one of the top 10 pollutants found in our oceans.”

How will you get consumers to shift from plastic straws to edible straws?

“With LOLISTRAW, it’s not about telling consumers they can’t have their straw — it’s about offering them a sustainable alternative. We believe that offering an experience rather than asking consumers to sacrifice is what will propel the adoption of sustainable solutions where they are needed.”

Equally important, how will you get businesses – like restaurants and stadiums – to switch to edible straws and cups, or at least offer them alongside traditional plastic ware?

“Our focus for launching LOLISTRAW will be in leader cities that have composting infrastructure in place. These cities are typically those that require food service businesses to compost their food waste, which opens up an opportunity for LOLISTRAW to actually help decrease their operational cost of dealing with plastic contamination in their compost waste stream.

“We’ll be working to further educate businesses on the plastic straw crisis, and offering them LOLISTRAW as a solution that positions them as innovators in the sustainability realm. Not only will their choice to offer LOLISTRAW at their venue make a positive impact on the environment, but it will also be a fun experience for their consumers.”

What’s your vision for LOLIWARE? Where do you see the company in the near future?

“LOLIWARE’s mission is to replace single-use plastic with edible, hyper-compostable materials. Our ultimate vision for LOLISTRAW is to replace plastic straws at scale by being used at high-volume venues where the most plastic straw waste is generated — cafes, fast casual restaurants, juice shops, stadiums, etc.”

LOLIWARE plans to launch an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for mass manufacturing. You can head on over here to stay updated.