Each time we want to drink tender coconut or simple lemonade, the colorful straw hits our eyes. The easy alternative, paper straw is expensive and turns soggy soon. So we rather gulp the liquid than enjoy the slow sip. Well, not anymore. Bengaluru based start-up has come up with an eco-friendly solution and is making noise all over the world.
IT professional Manigandan Kumarappan was selling trimmed tender coconuts with plastic straws online a few years ago. A few of his customers reverted about solutions to replace plastic straws with eco-friendly alternatives. He looked back at the same coconut farms for solution, and leafy straws were born in 2018.
These are 100% organically biodegradable single-use drinking straws made out of dried coconut leaves that have fallen to the ground naturally. Dried coconut leaves are often burnt. Instead, the Bengaluru-based startup Evlogia Eco Care Private Ltd decided to make the best use of it.
These straws are a good replacement for plastic straws thus cutting down waste generation. These straws remain sturdy in fluids for long proving them as a better alternative for the paper straws as well.
Dried coconut leaves are procured from various farms of Palani in Tamil Nadu, Shimoga, Chitradurga of Karnataka and a few other places. The entire process of straw making is semi-automatic, explains David who is one of the five managerial team members at Leafy Straws.
Once the leaves are collected, mid ribs are removed and made into brooms. The remaining part of the leaves are segregated width-wise and cleaned thoroughly. No chemicals are added in the process. Instead, they are washed and sun dried before bringing to the manufacturing plant in JP Nagar, Bengaluru.
Then the leaves undergo a pressure-heating process which is a deep clean method. Using a machine developed in-house, the leaves are washed in 120 degrees Celsius steam which softens and makes them easy to roll into straws. And 15 women from the local neighborhood who migrated to Bengaluru in search of jobs are employed and they make around 10,000 straws per day.
The leafy straws are exported to the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and other countries. The product has an Indian patent and is also doing good sales on e-commerce platforms. Switching to an eco-friendly alternative which is also affordable was the key factor for this company. Though steel, bamboo and other materials have done well in this sector, they have their own drawbacks with cleaning methods and cost wise. Leafy straw cost around Re 1.5 to Rs 2 per piece.
Evlogia Eco is already coming up with lids for takeaway containers and other cutlery with coconut leaves. This business model also supports farmers which is a bonus point. Now, with such initiative and projects, one can enjoy every sip with pride and without guilt.