The straw revolution

| The love for straws is growing |

  At the same time as the boom of “abandoning plastic bags”, abandoning plastic straws is also on the agenda. There are more and more restaurants switching to paper straws, but consumers are generally dissatisfied with this: “It is not easy to use paper straws to suck drinks into the mouth.” “Paper straws become soft after a while and are difficult to use.” Having said that, “Returning to plastic straws” is also unlikely. Do humans only have two choices, plastic straws and paper straws?
  Sugar, rice, bamboo, sugar cane, straw, aluminum, silica gel, stainless steel… New straws of various materials have appeared in various countries. Yubi Nomura, a self-proclaimed “straw collector”, introduced the latest trends in the straw industry. She herself likes glass straws the most. “The edge of the glass straw is curved, which is very comfortable to put in the mouth, and you can directly see the inside when cleaning, which is convenient to confirm whether it is cleaned.” Nomura said.
  Silicone straws are not afraid of teeth gnawing, very safe, especially suitable for children, but the disadvantage is that they are easily stained. Stainless steel and aluminum straws can make cold drinks more refreshing, but some people don’t like the metallic feel. Straws made of natural materials cannot be used to drink carbonated beverages. In fact, both types of straws have pros and cons.
  Nomura has been collecting straws since he was 19 years old. She was studying in the Philippines at the time, and when she went to a coffee shop to drink coffee, she first saw a straw made of bamboo. Before, she had never paid much attention to straws, but since then, she suddenly became interested in the material of straws. Later, she went on a study tour to other Southeast Asian countries, where milk tea is extremely popular, but the extensive use of plastic straws has caused local environmental problems. After returning to Japan, she found that Japan is also accelerating the promotion of discarding plastic straws.
  Nomura said: “The straw itself is not wrong, it’s the user’s usage that is wrong.” Because he likes straws, Nomura registered an account named “Straw My Straw” on the social networking platform in 2019 to publish related content about straws. . The following year, she launched her own brand of candy straws. This candy straw has its own sweetness and will gradually melt during use, and finally the user can directly chew it and eat it.
  Nomura believes that the idea of ​​”dropping plastic straws and switching to paper straws” does not inherently meet people’s needs, and it is important to provide people with multiple options. “Of course, not using a straw is the most environmentally friendly thing to do. However, I love using a straw myself, and for some people, a straw is an essential tool for drinking. I want to give these people more options and let them Choose the straw according to your own heart,” she said.

  Nomura hopes to create a “straw culture” where people can choose different straws based on their preferences and how well they match the drink. In December 2021, she launched a new sugar straw in collaboration with Kanra, a large Japanese sugar company. “The sugar cane straw has the sweetness of brown sugar, and I like to drink milk tea with it. Kanle’s classic ‘Golden Milk Candy’ straw goes well with coffee,” Nomura said.
| Reduce food waste |

  In addition to Nomura, there are others who are challenging the use of special materials to make straws, such as employees of Japan’s Abeko Seika Co., Ltd.
  Abe’s main product is persimmon confectionery (a Japanese confectionary made of glutinous rice flour and shaped like persimmon seeds), and in recent years, he has also been developing pasta. Yuhiro Hato from the development department came up with an idea: Wouldn’t it be fun if you could make straws out of pasta?
  Hatori has more than 30 years of working experience and is a skilled pastry chef. In order to make the pasta straws more durable, he tried for a year. In the process of making persimmon seeds, there will be some defective products, which can only be discarded and cannot be sold due to their poor shape. Hatori thought that he could grind these persimmon desserts into powder and add pasta to enhance the strength of the straw material. By flexibly reusing defective persimmon seeds, the company has also solved the problem of food waste internally. Now, the company has started the trial promotion of pasta straws in the group’s restaurants, and is considering formal sales.
  Ceramic straws appeared in Gifu Prefecture, Japan’s best ceramic producing area. The Mistro brand has launched the colorful Minoyaki straws. The “Father of Minoyaki Straws” is Hideomi Sakai, the managing director of the tableware manufacturing and sales company Kanes. Two years ago, when a client asked Sakai if he could make Mino-yaki straws, he said, “Absolutely not. I’ve never heard of ceramics that can be fired into such long, thin tubes, and they can crack. , cut the user.”

■ 1. Straws suitable for party use: Although it is plastic, it can be reused, and the colors and shapes are interesting. ■ 2. Straws of different materials bring different touch to the lips and tongue, each with its own characteristics. ■ 3. Edible sugar straws developed by Nomura ■ 4.16-inch long stainless steel straws, just fit into glasses that are not too deep. ■ 5. The two on the left in the picture are sedge straws from Vietnam, the green one in the middle is a glass straw from Indonesia, and the two on the right are bamboo straws from the Philippines. ■ 6. South Americans use this straw to drink hot yerba mate tea, which can effectively prevent the entrance of tea leaves. ■ 7. Paper straws with free choice of patterns. Although the durability of paper straws is low, one can print various patterns on paper straws. ■ 8. The pasta straws produced by Abeyuki have a kind of pasta-like glycol in the entrance, and the tongue feels very good. ■ 9. Carnes has launched a reusable Mistro Mino burning straw, priced at 2,530 yen, and comes with a special cleaning brush.

  Although he rejected the other party at the time, this question lingered in Sakai’s mind for a long time. Is it really impossible to make a ceramic straw? He was shocked when he witnessed footage of scientists pulling a plastic straw foreign object out of a turtle’s nose. The video sent shockwaves through audiences around the world as fodder for denouncing the current state of ocean plastic pollution.
  Sakai asked a number of porcelain kilns, and finally made a straw that is several times stronger than ordinary ceramic tableware using raw materials that are rarely used in ordinary times. “We made many attempts in the coating method of the glaze, the drawing method of the pattern, etc., and finally succeeded.” He said.
  In the past two years, the Mistro brand has produced 8,500 ceramic straws and has begun to promote cooperation with local restaurants. Consumers who bring the brand’s ceramic straws to eat can enjoy discounts. “Ceramic is a tableware material that we are familiar with. It has good thermal conductivity. According to consumer feedback, the use of ceramic straws can better experience the deliciousness of drinks.” Sakai said.
  Through touch, temperature, taste and other elements… the new straws allow people to taste the subtle and hidden flavors of drinks. Do you also want to try straws of different materials?

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