Image credit: Duke Burchell
Simply Straws launched in 2012 with a mission to create the best straw possible while helping reduce pollution caused by plastic straws. They have since won awards for their social activation and light footprint on the environment. Parvati Magazine spoke with Simply Straws co-founder and X Games medalist snowboarder Chanelle Sladics, and Simply Straws Awesome Ambassador, pro snowboarder and four time Olympian Kjersti Buaas.
Parvati Magazine: What inspires Simply Straws to be so engaged with education to protect the environment?
Chanelle Sladics: As we started on this voyage we were really in uncharted territory. There is a strong dialogue around reusable plastic bottles and bags, but no one’s talking about the straws. The beachcombers can’t pick them up and none of them are being recycled. We thought, wow, this is a huge oversight, and a massive problem. We really had to start the foundation of our business to be as good at educating the problem as presenting the solution. And it’s also about reducing the plastic that is already out there. So we engage with non-profits through our Straws for Cause program and guaranteeing one percent of our gross income to these partners who are passionate about plastic pollution. Now we’re seeing a massive conversion to solution-based products and we’re grateful to be a part of that journey.
PMAG: Why are glass straws better than the alternatives?
CS: First of all, you’re putting less of an impact on the environment by choosing a reusable glass straw compared to a single use plastic straw. And for me I think it just tastes really good through glass, whether it is warm drink or a cold smoothie or whatever it is, just the taste. You won’t have the metallic taste from the metals or leaching from plastic, and metal straws don’t do well with hot beverages or really cold beverages. Paper is obviously disposable, so in our opinion glass is the best solution.
Kjersti Buaas: And they are really durable. We travel so much and we bring them everywhere and they hold up great. I’ve had one straw for five years. And they are fun, that’s the last thing. They are beautiful, and classy and different.
PMAG: How do you ensure Simply Straws walks the talk of environmental sustainability in operations?
CS: We are almost a zero waste business. If we have any scrap materials with our end pieces we either use them as samples for our stores or give them to a local jewelry maker who tumbles them and uses them in her jewelry line. All of our packaging is compostable, non-toxic, printed on paper from fallen trees. We are powered by wind at our facility. When we became a B Corporation they came in and audited our business, we are extremely sustainable.
PMAG: Can you tell us about the #PledgeAgainstPlasticStraws and the Campus Challenge?
CS: We are giving away a glass straw for every pledge during Earth Month (April). It’s something we started when we launched our business because we wanted to do something really special for Earth Month to celebrate it.
This year we’re launching a Campus Challenge and we thought we were just going to do ten schools and we have over 70 signed up. We’re blown away the way it’s taking off with universities, colleges, high schools and elementary schools. The campaign starts April 1 and we’re going to let people sign up all of Earth Month. Buzzfeed are going to be highlighting the top three as well.
PMAG: Who are the Awesome Ambassadors and how do they support your environmental mission?
CS: In a nutshell I think of them as our megaphone. We’ve never had the finances to advertise. Kjersti was the first ambassador of our company and she ended up investing in our company, she believed in it so much. When we come across mindful athletes, musicians, stewards of the environment, people who are active in policy, marine biologists, free divers, we engage with them. We have different tiers in the program and they help with messaging and educating their followers about the plastic problem in regards to straws specifically, and how there are alternatives out there to plastic straws if you really love straws.
KB: I’ve seen it from the very beginning and honestly it’s very inspiring to watch this family to build something from scratch, with not much resources, and put their heart and soul into it, and push through the crazy hard challenges, with mostly the environment in mind, and people’s health and planetary health. It was never really about making a ton of money. I never heard that. I just heard, okay, we really want to provide an alternative so people don’t stain their teeth and deplete their health and we also don’t want all this waste going into our oceans and our landfills, so let’s come up with this awesome alternative that looks classy. It’s amazing how they have stayed true to their roots and the mission and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Kjersti Buaas and and Chanelle Sladics have won snowboarding medals in the Olympics, X Games, and the US Open. They co-founded PRSNT (& PRSNT Podcast) hosting mindful women’s adventure retreats worldwide. Chanelle’s love for nature inspired B-Corp Award recognized Simply Straws as an alternative to plastic straws.
Image credit: Nikol Herec @nikaherc