All hail the noodle! A staple for struggling students, a last-minute work lunch, the companion to a nourishing broth to fend off a cold, a meal your children will actually eat – the humble noodle has helped us all out.
But what about in the form of a… drinking straw?
Glenn Dawson, together with his stepson and business partner Chris Diggeden, has masterfully transformed the noodle into The Only Straw: a super straw here to save not only your soggy paper straw summers, but also, importantly, the environment.
“Straws that last in your drink, not our environment.”—
Gippslandia: What sparked The Only Straw’s creation?
Glenn: I owned and operated small beachfront hotels and restaurants in Lombok when the enormity of the plastic straw debacle arose. Our beaches were littered with used plastic straws, which are harmful to the environment and marine life globally. So, I set about finding an environmentally friendlyalternative that I could use in my hotels and restaurants and introduce to other hospitality businesses.
How did you turn this wild idea into a tangible product, then a business?
I spent a long time learning about how different straws are made and their effects on the environment.
It was difficult to find something that could truly break down without having negative effects – neither bioplastics nor paper straws achieve this.
Eventually, I found pasta straws, but wanting a straw everyone could sip from I needed to find a gluten-free alternative. Finally, in 2020, my passion to create the perfect drinking straw was realised – gluten-free, vegan-friendly, all-natural, zero-waste rice flour and tapioca starch straws.
With this idea, I applied for the Startup Gippsland incubator and went right through to the grand final pitch. Since then, we have continued to create new recyclable packaging, ensuring there are no plastics in our products, except the tape on the boxes. We’ve done trade shows to introduce our brand to the businesses and distributors that will help us grow.
We now have over 100 businesses on board across Australia. We supplied the last two Melbourne Grand Prix events, which was great for brand exposure.
Why is this the only straw we should be sipping from this summer?
Australia’s beverage consumers require and deserve a quality drinking straw that doesn’t contain any form of plastic or chemicals that can harm them or their environment. Basically a baked noodle, The Only Straw breaks down in any environment or waterway. Not only can they be put into a green bin or home compost, but if they do become litter, they will break down to nothing and are completely edible for all creatures.
All-natural ingredients make them a great choice for sipping, and with well over two hours of lasting power in your cold juice or shake, you can skip the soggy paper straw blues.
You’ve committed to sustainability at every level, down to using natural vegetable dyes for each vibrant colour. Why is sustainability close to your heart?
We must think about future generations: our kids and our grandchildren. We have to think about the world they will be living in and protect our planet for them. We just recently became partners with Ocean Integrity, which is a large organisation collecting plastics from the ocean that started in Indonesia and is now worldwide. For every box of The Only Straw sold, a dollar goes towards removing waste from the ocean.
The Only Straw slogan is “Straws that last in your drink, not our environment.”
Has your business boomed since the Victoria-wide ban on single-use plastics?
We are growing each week and are proud to say that we have so far replaced over a million plastic straws.
We hope to continue to increase sales as better education spreads and the norms change for Victorian businesses.
Where can we go in Gippsland to sip from The Only Straw?
The Prom Open Air Cinema and Up Beet Health in Wonthaggi are a couple of our fantastic supporters. Every week more Gippslandians and Gippsland businesses are supporting our local business. We are talking with a couple of distribution businesses in this area and hope to grow to help preserve our beautiful region.
What's your dream for The Only Straw?
To be The Only Straw people use! There are approximately 10 million single-use straws used across Australia every day. There is potential to replace most single-use products with materials that will break down in any environment. The straws are our first step, but more is in the pipeline…
Get your hands on this 100% biodegradable, home-compostable and totally zero-waste super straw at theonlystraw.com.au.