The newly-launched campaign is being implemented by three of the biggest supermarket chains in Vietnam -- Lotte Mart, Saigon Co-op in Ho Chi Minh City and Big C in Hanoi.
In a bid to save the environment from plastic and its harmful effects, several supermarkets in Vietnam have joined a campaign to use non-plastic products, courtesy a young Vietnamese entrepreneur, reports The Epoch Times.
Tran Minh Tien is the owner of Ống Hút Cỏ, a Vietnam-based company that creates two kinds of straws out of sedge grass, which grows wild along the Mekong Delta. And joining his campaign are three of the biggest supermarket chains in Vietnam -- Lotte Mart, Saigon Co-op in Ho Chi Minh City and Big C in Hanoi.
And what have they done? The supermarket chains have started using banana leaves instead of plastic bags to wrap vegetables, the online newspaper Vnexpress reported.
Tran Minh Tien, the owner of Ong Hut Co., took to Facebook to explain the entire process and how it can be done! The company first collects the hollow stems of grass. The grass is then washed and cut into 20-centimetre lengths. The tubes are cleaned on the inside using a metal rod. Following another round of washing, the straws are bundled together and finally wrapped in banana leaves.
In a bid to protect the environment, on Wednesday (April 3), shoppers at a Lotte Mart outlet in Ho Chi Minh City were in for a surprise when they noticed that several vegetables like scallions and okra were wrapped in banana leaves.
The company is said to expand the use of banana leaves for the other chains of the supermarket, following the trial period this month. Apart from wrapping vegetables, it is also used to wrap fresh meat in the supermarkets toward a switch to environmentally friendly products.
The Lotte Mart in Ho Chi Minh City sold paper straws and food boxes made from sugarcane waste, while eggs were packed in paper packages instead of plastic boxes. Meanwhile, Big C has been providing shopkeepers with completely biodegradable bags made out of corn powder.
According to official figures, Vietnam produces over 2,500 tonnes of plastic waste a day and it was ranked fourth globally for the amount of plastic waste dumped into the ocean, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Apart from Tran Minh Tien's creative innovation, there are other groups such as Lonely Whale, Last Plastic Straw, Straw Free, and Be Straw Free, that have been working towards eliminating plastic straws. They have also introduced many alternatives to plastic straws -- that includes metal straws and rice straws.
Tran Minh Tien has now shown that a certain type of grass named Lepironia articulata found in Mekong Delta, Vietnam can be converted into drinking straws. And that's the idea that has been taking over social media, with many suggesting that it was the need of the hour to bring in such a change.
"A young Vietnamese entrepreneur has recently released a straw made of wild grass. Such #sustainable solutions would definitely lead to the kind of future we wish and work for!," a Twitter user said. While another added, "What a great idea. These straws are made of a species of grass with a hollow stem that grows wild in the wetlands of Vietnam."
Although the straws are currently been only sold in Vietnam, the company aims to reach out to the neighbouring countries as well in the near future. The grass straws are edible, compostable, free of chemicals and preservatives, and really inexpensive as well. The fresh straws cost about 2.6 cents each, and the dried cost about 4.3 cents each, according to VnExpress International.
The idea has been getting a lot of praises on social media, and deservedly so, considering every year, there are at least 8 million tons of plastic finding its way into our oceans. And these usually come from the plastic straws that we use every day. While another interesting statistic is that the United States by itself discards over 500 million plastic straws each day, impacting our Earth in a huge way.