Several years ago a Little Shop of Horrors-variety dentist turned what was supposed to be a routine teeth cleaning into a painful years-long affair in which my teeth were incredibly sensitive to cold. Having a glass of ice water or cold green smoothie brought lots of discomfort with it. Rather than living a life of warm smoothies (I believe they call that soup), I started looking into ways around my pain. Enter glass straws.
At that time I’d already banished plastic from my kitchen because of its environmental impact and concerns over BPA. Glass straws were a great way to continue that endeavor and not add to one-time-and-then-throw-away plastic use. (Did you know that plastic straws are always in the top ten when it comes to items collected during beach cleanups?)
Plus, aesthetically glass straws are a huge step up from their plastic counterpart. They are a piece of functional art that can be used daily. They have a wonderful mouth feel and are a thing of beauty in a glass.
Now I use glass straws several times a day for juices, glasses of cucumber water, and iced coffee. (There’s also the added benefit that when using a straw for coffee, less of it comes into contact with the front of my teeth, which means less yellow discoloration over time.)
The glass straws that I use come from a company called Strawesome, which is a Michigan-based, family-owned and operated company that was started by Daedra Surowiec. Daedra is the artist and president behind Strawesome, and she runs the company with her husband, Brian Surowiec, who covers the business and technology side.
I contacted Daedra to find out more about Strawesome, how she got started, and the environmental impact of plastic on our world.
How did you get started making glass straws?
I started out making glass straws because a few friends of mine wanted alternatives to the plastic ones. I took the idea to a local glass blowing studio and asked if this was something they could make. They actually teach classes there so I took classes in the art of torch work and it just blossomed from there!
Did you do other glass work before straw-making?
I tried to blow hot glass in a sampler class one time and it wasn’t for me, way too tough and HOT! Other than that I had never worked with glass in the past, but I do have a degree in art and architecture so the creative aspect of my job isn’t far-fetched.
What inspired you to start Strawesome?
As I mentioned before the need for the product inspired me to start making the straws. When we started out on Etsy our product was incredibly popular so much so that I had to assess whether or not I wanted to start my own website. Strawesome combines my love for art with the passion I’ve always had for sustainability so it was a perfect fit!
Is breakage an issue with the straws and are they safe for kids?
I personally have 2 rowdy little boys that have used our straws every day since they were very little, they were a newborn and a 4 year old when I started Strawesome. The newborn drank his first foods out of our straws – green smoothies! While glass is breakable the glass we use is the strongest that is commercially available, it’s the same type as Pyrex glass. A customer will never be able to bite through this glass and have it break in their mouth, I know that’s the #1 concern with glass straws. In fact, glass straws will quickly break the bad habit of chewing on those gross plastic straws!
Tell me more about the environmental impact of plastic straws and why glass straws are a better alternative.
To think about the environmental impact I always have people think about how many restaurants there are in their town (include fast food restaurants in that number), then think about how many straws each of those establishments use each day based on the amount of patrons that visit and use a plastic straw to drink. The fast food restaurants alone see thousands of people a each day or week (depends on location). Now multiply by the number of restaurants that are in your state/province, then your country, then our world. It’s overwhelming to think about but that helps you understand the wastefulness we as a society are perpetuating. All those straws go into the trash and they stay there. Or they get tossed on the ground and washed down a drain to end up in our oceans where they stay.
What is the best thing about running Strawesome?
The best thing about running Strawesome is having the freedom to create my business the way I want it to look. We’re always trying new things and want to make sure we’re having fun with work, which we always do!
Is there anything else you’d like to say?