Find out how reusable bamboo straws are made by hand

A small company in Sumatra make completely reuseable bamboo straws.

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Straws are one of the major contributors to global plastic waste. While incredibly useful, there are natural alternatives that are, arguably, just as good as their plastic alternatives. 

This is the belief of Husein from Indonesia who makes all-natural bamboo straws by hand. Together with his colleagues at the Voluntary Sumatran Foundation, he is producing a sustainable solution to single-use plastics and working to actively promote this environmentally friendly alternative to the community.

bamboo straws complete
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Let's see how they are made.

Step 1: Harvest the bamboo

Obviously, the first step is to actually get your hands on some bamboo. For Husein, bamboo happens to grow where he lives, so, this is fairly straightforward for him. A handful of bamboo stems are cut or collected, cleaned up, and taken away ready for further processing. 

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Once back at the workshop, the bamboo lengths are cut down to length and sanded down to expose their cores. This is done by hand and can be fairly labor-intensive. 

bamboo straws sand down
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Step 2: Wash and clean the bamboo straws

Once the lengths of bamboo have been fully sanded down, the next step is to clean them up. The straws are placed in a bucket of water, rinsed, and scrubbed clean by hand. 

This removes any remaining sawdust from the straws and ensures they are safe to actually use for drinking. 

bamboo straws cleaning
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The bores of the straws are cleaned using small pipe cleaners as this is the only effective way of getting into these small spaces. Once the straws are cleaned, they are then left to drip dry in the open air. 

The straws are left until they are fully dry before moving on to the next stage of the process. 

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Step 3: Branding is added

Once the straws are fully dried, they are taken back inside the workshop for branding. A small ink stamp is held on a special frame and the straws are pressed against it one at a time. 

When required, the stamp is reloaded with ink. This leaves the manufacturer's branding prominently stamped at one end of each straw. 

bamboo straws branding
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Step 4: Sorting and packaging

With the branding added, the straws are now ready for sorting and packaging. Since bamboo is a natural product, the size of the bore inside each straw can vary widely. 

For this reason, straws are roughly sorted into more-or-less similar bundles. The straws are then packaged up in groups of 5 or more and held together with a sheath of paper. 

The bamboo straw bundles are then placed inside specially designed, and also branded, bags. Like all other phases of the production, this is also carried out by hand. 

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bamboo straws packaging
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A pipe cleaner is also added to each package so that the straws can actually be reused rather than thrown away - like their plastic alternatives. A small keychain is also added to the end of the pipe cleaner. 

Packaging can vary for the straws, ranging from a fabric bag to a woven version depending on the product ordered by the client. With that, the bamboo straws are now ready for transport and delivery. 

If you enjoyed watching the production of this natural product, you might enjoy finding out how something else is made? How about, for example, wooden cricket bats

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