Plastic. That term has become synonymous with the convenience of modern life, completely ingrained to a point where it is almost hard to picture living out a day in 2020 without using something made out of plastic. Yet for something that takes hundreds of years to degrade, many of us are quick to toss away plastic-made items without a thought or care.
Did you know that according to the Ministry of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment in 2018, Malaysia was ranked 8th among the top 10 countries with mismanaged plastic waste? To add further salt to injury, it has been found that we produce as much as 0.94 metric tons of the stuff, with a substantial amount from that number washing up into oceans!
In which case, small steps like refusing the use of plastic straws at restaurants can help contribute to a bigger movement of sustainability throughout our country. But asides from metal straws, what other alternatives do you have? Just ask local company nakedwonders!
Who are Naked Wonders?
Founded by Andre and Melissa in February 2020, nakedwonders is a young local enterprise that aims to promote the use of eco-friendly alternatives to your everyday products, to help you achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. And right now, they’ve discovered a new alternative to your traditional plastic straws: Fàn-Straws. Made from starch, these straws have all the same convenience of a traditional plastic straw, with the only benefit being: you can eat them.
Yes, these straws are edible, and if you’d rather not eat them, throwing them away is no issue either, because they are completely biodegradable!
With sustainability in mind, nakedwonders aims to work with Malaysians and local businesses in generating awareness and changing the way we interact with everyday disposable products.
What are Fàn-Straws?
Essentially, Fàn-Straws like mentioned before, are straws made completely from rice and tapioca. And what’s best about these straws is that they are 100% organic, and will completely degrade in the span of only 90 days. What happens if the straws wind up in the oceans? They’ll gradually melt, and will turn into food for marine life.
“It (the straws) can even be used as fertiliser for plants. It lasts about 2 to 4 hours in cold drinks and 1 to 2 hours in hot drinks. Best part is, the straw does not alter the tastes of the drinks at all.” Andre told us.
In fact, Andre says that the nude colour of the straws was what inspired their company name to begin with: a world that is naked, bare, and free from pollutants.
Trends of plastic use among Malaysians
To find out why sustainability and eco-friendly alternatives are important, we asked Andre about the current trends he has observed concerning single-use plastics among Malaysians. Citing research from YouGov, he told WORLD OF BUZZ that as many as one in five Malaysians are still habitually using plastic straws daily.
This is on top of the fact that much of the shopping process, especially in terms of food, commonly features single-use plastics. Whether it be from packing your fruits into individual Styrofoam trays before being cling-wrapped for sale, to using individual plastic bags to package vegetables, fruit and meats prior to being weighed at the counters. All of this callous use of plastic only further exacerbates a growing problem that we are all in one way or another, complicit in.
Pushing for the use of eco-friendly alternatives
But of course, a tide of change can’t just happen all on its own without a crowd to rally behind it, and Andre has mentioned that since their inception, many local eateries in Kuching have already partnered up with them to feature the use of their biodegradable straws in their businesses. This is further compounded by the recent ban of plastic straws enforced by Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor, Datuk Wee Hong Seng.
Andre points out that many F&B businesses are in actuality, well equipped and ready to make the transition into operating on a more environmentally friendly scale. In fact, he has observed that quite a few cafes in Kuching have already halted the purchasing and use of plastic straws entirely in a bid to move towards using either new alternatives, or no straws at all.
“We have a really good ‘buy back programme’ by our local council in Kuching too. The F&B industry packages their stocks in a lot of materials that can typically be recycled, such as cardboard, plastics, paper, and aluminium.
The Buy Back Programme will take in all these and in return, it can be exchanged for things like brooms, detergents, toilet rolls, mops, dish washing liquid and many more.”
So as you can see, it takes both private businesses, the government, and the public to work in tandem to see tangible changes to our daily habits and practices!
How can you live a more sustainable lifestyle?
As consumers, we wanted to know how we can incorporate sustainability into our own lives, and asked Andre on what steps we can take to help combat this burgeoning issue concerning plastic waste in Malaysia.
The first step that we were told to try was perhaps the easiest: find new ways to go about your day without needing to depend on plastics. Switch out your single-use plastic drinking bottles to sturdier, reusable ones. Use tote bags instead of plastic bags are grocery stores. Bring your own containers to take away your food.
But here are more interesting steps you can take to try and reduce your dependency on plastics:
- Bring your own water bottle out, so you don’t have the need to buy drinks from convenience stores every time you feel parched. That reduces the use of throwaway plastic bottles!
- Buy less. Plastics don’t just come in the form of bottles and straws, they’re also in synthetic fibres too. So be mindful when you’re buying new clothes and always ask yourself: do you really need that new shirt or pair of pants?
- Supporting local. By supporting local businesses, not only are you helping the domestic economy, but this also helps reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the need for transport logistics to transport your goods.
So there you have it folks, straws that eat away pollution, literally! If you wish to know more about Naked Wonders and the work that they do, feel free to click here to visit their official Facebook page!
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