- Title: Turning grass into eco-friendly straws in Vietnam
- Date: 18th December 2019
- Summary: LONG AN PROVINCE, VIETNAM (RECENT - NOVEMBER 14, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF GRASS STRAW ENTREPRENEUR, TRAN MINH TIEN, GATHERING GRASS FROM SWAMP TIEN'S HAND PATTING BUNDLE OF GRASS TIEN WALKING AWAY WITH GRASS (SOUNDBITE) (Vietnamese) GRASS STRAW ENTREPRENEUR, TRAN MINH TIEN, SAYING: "I came up with the grass straw as a solution to temporarily replace plastic straws and reduce part of their damage to the environment. However, in the long run, the grass straw does not solve the pollution problem, nor does it have the characteristics required to become the solution to protect the environment (because the grass doesn't grow fast enough)." VARIOUS OF GRASS STRAW MAKER, TRAN THI TUOI, RUBBING GRASS WITH SAND TUOI WASHING GRASS (SOUNDBITE) (Vietnamese) GRASS STRAW ENTREPRENEUR, TRAN MINH TIEN, SAYING: "Right from the beginning, I formed this grass straw idea around the fact that the harvesting can never exceed the nature reproduction rate. That is why until now we always have just four workers at most working at my workshop. We work Mondays to Fridays and rest on weekends, at the same time letting nature have enough time to recover." VARIOUS OF WOMAN CUTTING GRASS PILE OF CUT GRASS TIEN PUTTING CUT GRASS INTO WOODEN BASKET/ TUOI WORKING HANDS ARRANGING PILE OF CUT GRASS ON WOODEN BASKET VARIOUS OF TUOI CUTTING AND CLEANING GRASS (SOUNDBITE) (Vietnamese) 55-YEAR-OLD GRASS STRAW MAKER, TRAN THI TUOI, SAYING: "I saw on TV that a whale ate all those plastic straws and nylon bags and died. From then on, I started working on this and it's like I am helping the community" TIEN LAYING DRIED GRASS STRAWS ON SCREEN VARIOUS OF TIEN ARRANGING DRIED GRASS STRAWS ON SCREEN HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM (RECENT - NOVEMBER 14, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF SHOP READING (English): "SAIGON KITSCH" STAFF SHOWING CUSTOMER TIEN'S STRAWS ON DISPLAY CUSTOMER'S HANDS HOLDING TIEN'S STRAWS CUSTOMER HOLDING TIEN'S STRAWS AND TALKING TO STAFF HANOI, VIETNAM (RECENT - DECEMBER 13, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF TRAFFIC ON HANOI STREET HAWKERS PUSHING BIKES CARRYING PLASTIC BAGS PEOPLE SITTING AT CAFE DRINKS WITH PLASTIC STRAWS ON TRAY WOMAN DRINKING FROM PLASTIC STRAW VARIOUS OF PEOPLE SEATED AT CAFE, SOME DRINKING OUT OF PLASTIC STRAWS WOMAN HOLDING CUP WITH PLASTIC STRAW PEOPLE PASSING BY CAFE VARIOUS OF USED PLASTIC CUPS AND STRAWS ON GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (Vietnamese) UNIVERSITY STUDENT, LE HONG PHUC, SAYING: "I think switching from using plastic straws to a grass straw is quite an innovative move, but it will take a while for everyone to get used to using grass straws or other environmental-friendly products." REPORTER: "Why? " "Most people, myself included, are so used to using plastic ones because we can bite on them, and they feel better than paper straws or grass straws, even if (we know) using these straws will reduce plastic waste." GRADUATED STUDENT, NGUYEN NGOC SON, SITTING WITH WOMAN AND DRINKING FROM PLASTIC STRAW WOMAN DRINKING FROM PLASTIC STRAW (SOUNDBITE) (Vietnamese) 22-YEAR-OLD GRADUATED STUDENT, NGUYEN NGOC SON, SAYING: "Between single use plastic straws and grass straws, I think we should encourage people to use grass straws, because they're safe to drink from, and also better for our surroundings and environment." TRAFFIC AND PEDESTRIANS ON STREET WOMAN CARRYING PLASTIC BAGS MEN STANDING AT ROADSIDE SHOP VARIOUS OF PLASTIC STRAWS ON SALE AT SHOP
- Embargoed: 1st January 2020 09:05
- Keywords: Vietnam consumerism environment grass straw plastic pollution
- Location: LONG AN PROVINCE, HO CHI MINH CITY, HANOI, VIETNAM
- City: LONG AN PROVINCE, HO CHI MINH CITY, HANOI, VIETNAM
- Country: Vietnam
- Topics: Pollution,Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA001BAI3XVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A young Vietnamese entrepreneur has found an environmentally-friendly way to sip drinks by converting hollow grass into reusable, bio-degradable straws.
Tran Minh Tien, 32, runs his company "3T" from a village deep in the Mekong Delta region, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of Ho Chi Minh city, where he's surrounded by all the wild hollow-stemmed grey sedge grass he needs.
Tien and his workers, most of whom come from the village, hand pick the grass from the surrounding swampland and then cut them into 20-centimetre-long pieces before they're set out to dry over a two to three-day period or baked in an oven.
"I came up with the grass straw as a solution to temporarily replace plastic straws and reduce part of their damage to the environment," Tien said, lamenting the fact that his invention is not the ultimate solution to ridding the environment of plastic pollution, as the grass needs time to recover and re-grow.
Tien started his business in 2017, and his company produces around 3000 grass straws a day, which are normally sold for a few cents each, earning the modest firm $400 per month after cost such as labour, tax and insurance.
According to Tien, his dried grass straws can be used for up to six months.
Vietnam has a very obvious addiction to plastic, and is the fourth-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution globally, a 2015 study by the University of Georgia showed.
In Hanoi, the average urbanite can be seen sipping from ubiquitous plastic straws and cups at every street corner.
"I think switching from using plastic straws to a grass straw is quite an innovative move, but it will take a while for everyone to get used to using grass straws or other environmental-friendly products," said Hanoi resident and university student Le Hong Phuc.
As demand has increased, Tien says he's afraid of expanding and harvesting more grass than necessary.
"The harvesting can never exceed the nature reproduction rate. That is why until now we always have just four workers at most working at my workshop," he said, adding that with the strategy they will allow the grass to "have enough time to recover."
(Production: Thinh Nguyen, Minh Nguyen, Joseph Campbell, Travis Teo)
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