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Singapore Students Invent Chewable, Recyclable Straw


Three Singaporean industrial design students designed the first chewable, reusable straw. It can be reassembled and stored in a pocket-size case, which you can use to spin dry your straw and carry it around.

CHEW Inc founders Tommy Cheong, Kevin Yeo and Lim Jing Jie noticed that many people unconsciously chew on their straw- and they realized that this was one of the reasons, along with bulkiness, for the low popularity of metal reusable straws. They kicked off at crowdfunding website Kickstarter with the intention not only to raise funds, but also to test the popularity of their idea with the public. Not only did they hit their target, but they raised 50% more than what they had hoped for: almost 20.000euros.

Another creative alternative, completely biodegradable, is the pasta straw, making its way to bars and resorts worldwide.

At the same time, the decision of the National University of Singapore to ban plastic straws was met with opposition by some of the students, who anonymously complained that “the environmental problem is collecting and disposing plastic waste, not producing and using plastic cutlery…”.

This could not be further from the truth. Only last year, the country produced a whopping 763,400 tonnes of plastic waste, only 6% of which was recycled. Landfills are getting filled up and, across South-east Asia, idyllic beaches get swamped by plastic waste washed to the shores. At the current rates of production and disposal of single-use plastics, and considering that a lot of the plastic waste cannot be recycled and takes hundreds of years to decompose, the planet is already choking on plastic. The problem is not only to find ways to handle the existing waste, but to drastically cut the amounts of plastic we use and dispose of.

Movements like Strawless Ocean and The last plastic straw target plastic straws specifically; and the Straw Wars movement in London puts on the map venues which stop using plastic straws. Extending to all single-use plastics, ZeroWaste Singapore recently publicized the “Bring-Your-Own” Singapore Guide 2018, rating Food and Beverage retailer efforts to reduce plastic disposables.

Resorts go plastic-free worldwide. While the pressure remains to find solutions to reuse and recycle existing waste, the only sustainable solution to plastic waste is to stop producing it. And so long as there is will, there are alternatives. How much “inconvenience” is it to drink from your own cup and choose reusable cutlery, anyway?

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