By Ann Luongo
According to the National Resources Defense Council, single-use plastic straws are just one of the many items littering our environment and threatening wildlife. Earth’s waterways, beaches, and oceans are suffering from an onslaught of negative impacts from human activities and pollution. Plastic pollution is one of the main environmental threats to the seas, along with climate change, oil spills, and overfishing.
Our addiction to using straws in daily life is not one that’s easily overcome, despite the dangers of single-use plastics to the environment. Yet, there are some companies striving to make a difference.
Paper straws have made their appearance to a less than stellar welcome, as unfortunately they melt in hot beverages or can disintegrate. Stainless-steel reusable straws, however, have made their mainstream debut to rave reviews. Stainless-steel straws are eco-friendly and safe to use. They’re made from 18/8 food-grade/304 stainless steel, which is the most commonly used food-grade stainless steel at home and in the kitchen.
Audra McNeill, the brain behind Strawcasion LLC, a platform for marketing and selling reusable, FDA-approved, stainless-steel straws, says it all started while she was on vacation.
“My family and friends ordered a round of drinks at a restaurant. Each drink was served with a stainless-steel straw,” she says. “It was exciting, because I had never seen a stainless-steel straw before. I was very impressed when I saw the drinks. Right away, I thought it was a great idea.”
The straws, McNeill says, were a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws. “They were a great marketing tool for the restaurant (branded), and the straws got chilled from being in the drink, which enhanced the drinking experience, making each sip cool and refreshing. I thought they were great.”
When she returned home, McNeill decided to do some research on the straws. After searching on the Internet for stainless-steel straws, she learned about the plastic pollution problems all around the world and the worldwide efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
“I learned that we use over 500 million plastic straws every day, which end up in our landfills, leaching harmful chemicals like BPA, or in our oceans, polluting our waters and killing marine life,” she says. “At that point, I realized I had not seen any stainless-steel straws in my community and decided to do my part to help to bring awareness about the benefits of the straws and to reduce the use of single-use plastics.”
Besides the environmental and health benefits of stainless-steel straws, Strawcasion straws have a fun and classy appeal to them. In an upscale restaurant, the straws are a classy accompaniment to any drink. McNeil also thinks the straws make a great gift or event/party favor. Strawcasion straws come in different sizes including cocktail (short), tumbler (standard size) and smoothie straws (wide and extra wide). They come in a variety of colors both short and curved, and all online orders include a cleaning brush.
“My vision is for people to start to see these straws as the ‘new classic’,” says McNeill, “A commonly-used utensil that can be used at home, in a restaurant, bar, coffee/smoothie/juice bars and in travel tumblers from brands like Yeti. They are made from food-grade stainless steel, just like a fork, spoon and knife. No more plastic straws.”
While McNeill and her family reside in Plymouth, all Strawcasion business (which is handled not only by McNeill, but her husband, Tom, as well) is done online.
McNeill says they are looking for retailers interested in selling their product. Retailers have the option to customize them/put their logo on them. The straws can be sold individually or also in a pack of four along with a cleaning brush.
“Strawcasion was established to educate others about the benefits of the stainless-steel straws and to showcase them for what they are, the new classic – a beautifully-designed, eco-friendly drinking straw that can be a part of everyday life and a keepsake for every celebration,” she explains.
The company offers wholesale pricing, custom straw engraving and tabletop marketing materials to educate customers about the benefits of purchasing and using (and reusing) a stainless-steel straw.
Strawcasion’s educational outreach also extends to schools. “We want to help your school make money (and to switch to stainless-steel straws). We offer discount pricing, bulk pricing. Schools can pass the discount on to families or sell the straws at their price and keep all the profits.”
Strawcasion recently participated in Beach Cleanup Day at White Horse Beach in Plymouth.
“We were invited to participate with the students in DECA at Plymouth North High School to raise money for the Ocean Conservancy,” says McNeill. “We made a donation to the Ocean Conservancy and offered a gift basket including a variety of our stainless-steel straws to help raise additional funds for the cause.”
While selling a beautiful, functional, reusable product reaps its own rewards, that’s really only part of it. Helping the environment by creating their product was the true goal.
“The most rewarding part of this is seeing more and more people use stainless-steel straws instead of plastic straws,” McNeill says. “We would like to see Strawcasion straws be the commonly used brand as an alternative to plastic straws.”
More information at strawcasion.com