Origin Stories: Bamboo Straws

Bamboo straws to replace plastic straws were the single inspiration for the founders of Whataboutgreen to start a business in sustainable products. Therefore we would like to take you on a tour to show you where our bamboo is sourced, how our straws are made, and why bamboo is such a good alternative in our common goal towards a sustainable circular economy.

China’s southeastern Jiangxi Province, with a distinct heritage of the Chinese Revolution, had made tremendous achievements in alleviating poverty in 2017 by lifting nearly 530,000 people out of destitution, with six counties having been removed from the poverty list. The policy set by the local government has confirmed its determination to get rid of poverty under the theme “Accuracy is the core, implementation is the key, sustainability is guarantee (source: Chinadaily).” The increasing interest for bamboo as a natural resource for a wide variety of products has played a great part in the rise of Jiangxi provice.

What makes bamboo sustainable?

Bamboo grows much faster than normal trees, a new shoot of bamboo, ready for cultivation can be grown in a timespan of 2-5 years, which makes it one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. Another big advantage of bamboo is that, with the right care, it will continue growing from the same crop, even when the top is cut off. Cutting a stand of bamboo down to the ground won’t eradicate it – stalks eventually regrow, but from the base rather than from cut canes.

The Process

Our straws are made in the county of Jinxian by local villagers at simple workshops. They generate an extra income that is shared within the local community. The process is relatively simple, bamboo is cut and collected, and brought to the village. The freshly cut and cleaned, then still green branches are bundled together and left to dry in the sun. In about 3-5 weeks, the bamboo will have turned yellow and is ready for production. No chemical processes are used in the production of our bamboo straws.

Once ready the branches are then cut to the right size, polished, and filed out from the inside one by one with the help of some basic tools and machinery such as electric drills and saws.

Truly natural, so truly unique

The fact that our straws are 100% natural, also means that every bamboo straw is unique, not two are the same. They can vary in thickness, could have some natural spots, and can slightly differ in colour, depending on the batch of bamboo, and the season they are produced. Some of them can also be slightly bent, we think that’s quite cool!

The last step of the process is the laser engraving of our straws with any design imaginable (within the limits of the shape of the straw of course), which happens in Hong Kong.

We hope you enjoyed the read, and that it will inspire you make the choice to switch to bamboo products yourself!