For This Couple, Single-Use Plastics Were The Last Straw

Christmas is all about the presents...

Before you freak out, it’s definitely also about family, food, friends, love, joy, sparkly, shiny tinsel… But for a lot of people, gifting is a massive part of the holiday.

Problem is, though, with all the “Oh I have to get something for Great Aunty Karen; hmm, and the dog-sitter’s bestie… oh, and I can’t forget the hairdresser’s brother’s girlfriend’s cat…”, we end up with a whole lot of wastage by the time the halls are decked and the bells have stopped jingling.

And we mean a lot. According to research commissioned by ING, Australians receive something like 10 million unwanted gifts each year, worth more than a whopping $400 million. Ouch.

Enter the small businesses who are making it their mission to effect change.

“By supporting social enterprises and purpose-driven businesses that prioritise sustainability, we can make a positive difference and help make the world a better place, or support those in need,” says Jamie-Lee Kay, co-founder of theotherstraw -- a small business replacing single-use plastic straws with reusable, ethically sourced bamboo straws.

Image: Supplied

We've partnered with ING Dreamstarter to find out a bit more about one of the small businesses the Aussie bank is supporting to make a difference in our world… And how you can help, too, by buying something good to stuff those stockings this Christmas.

Well, this kind sucks

Jamie and her partner Lennart launched theotherstraw in late 2018 after identifying the need for an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws.

“We’re fortunate to live close to the beach in Victoria, but we’ve seen firsthand the damaging impact single-use plastics such as straws have on our natural environment and wildlife,” Jamie tells 10 daily.

“In Australia, plastic straws are one of the most picked-up items during beach clean-ups -- and in Australia alone, we use around 10 million straws every single day. They take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to break down.”

The stats are pretty frightening -- and Jamie and Len couldn’t sit back and watch it happen any longer.

Image: Supplied

Banking on change

Being a small social enterprise, Jamie and Len needed a bit of help getting their vision for a better future off the ground.

“We needed some extra support to bring this range to life, so we applied for the ING Dreamstarter Program and when we found out that our application had been successful, we were over the moon,” Jamie shares.

From providing learning opportunities to pledging financial support, promoting the enterprises and providing grants when they need an extra boost, ING Dreamstarter is all about making a difference in the community.

“We’ve been so fortunate to receive the support from ING Dreamstarter. They backed our crowdfunding campaign, which allowed us to launch our new range. Since then, they’ve continued to help us to sustainably grow our business and further our impact.”

Since launching, theotherstraw has sold more than 50,000 reusable bamboo straws and prevented more than 4 million plastic straws from entering landfill, natural environments and oceans, explains Jamie, who adds that education is also a key pillar of their social enterprise.

“Our aim with theotherstraw is to get individuals and businesses to not only switch to reusable bamboo straws, but also incorporate other more sustainable items in their everyday life,” she tells 10 Daily. “We’ve also educated more than 12,000 business and individuals on the impact of single-use plastics, and supported more than 45 beach clean-ups.”

Want to give something good this Christmas?

The Other Straw has a range of beautiful, reusable, eco-friendly, organic, 100 percent natural, biodegradable, sustainable bamboo straws -- aka the perfect pressie for your Great Aunty/dog-sitter’s bestie/hairdresser’s brother’s girlfriend’s… whomever. Head over to the ING Dreamstarter shop to grab Jamie and Len’s fave buys for Christmas…

Bamboo Straws 10-Pack “The 10 pack is definitely our favourite for this year's Christmas pressies as we think it is the best value-for-money item on our website and helps spread the impact,” says Jamie.

“It comes with 10 straws, so there’s plenty to share the love with your friends, neighbours, or family members and have everyone sippin’ sustainably."

Image: Supplied

Bamboo Cutlery Set Want something for the non-sucker in your life? “This is our latest product and we absolutely love it,” shares Jamie. “It is a unique set of cutlery made from 100 percent bamboo, so it’s lightweight and super easy to carry around. It is a great alternative to single-use cutlery and doesn’t weigh your bag down!”

Image: Supplied

Custom-Engraved Bamboo Straws Personalisation, please! If you love a super-unique special gift, theotherstraw offers super-stylish customised sustainable, compostable bamboo straws for parties, events, weddings… pretty much any festivities you’re hosting.  “You can have your name or other details engraved on the straw and they make a perfect addition to your party drinks and decor.” Winner.

All they want for Christmas...

So what are the minds behind The Other Straw putting on their Christmas wish lists? “If I could grow enough facial hair to rock a beard or mo, the Million Dollar Beard Oil from Beard Season that is available on the ING Dreamstarter store would definitely be on my Christmas list,” laughs Len. Bonus points for supporting other Dreamstarter social enterprises!

And for Jamie? “Indoor plants are at the top of my wish list, for sure. Who doesn’t love a bit of greenery on their desk or next to their bed?”

Head to ING Dreamstarter to shop theotherstraw and find out more about buying something good to buy this Christmas.