This is a great story. It’s a story about tequila, and agave, and straws – a winning combination to be sure.
In this story, José Cuervo has found a way into the environmentally friendly world of reuse and recycle by taking parts of the agave plant that aren’t being used to make tequila and would otherwise be wasted, and using it to make other things . . . like straws and surfboards.
Plastic straws are a hot topic. Burning hot. Quite like the feeling of tequila as it runs down your throat and into your stomach.
Perhaps by now you almost have the stats memorized: there are an estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws littering shorelines worldwide, harming wildlife and disrupting ocean ecosystems. I don’t know how scientists were able to count that high, but I am impressed. If we had a biodegradable alternative to the plastic straw, we could reduce this staggering number (I guess scientists can’t count that high).
Why Do You Care?
A common complaint amongst the do-gooders trying more sustainable practices like drinking out of paper straws is that the paper straws gets soggy. Get over yourself, suck it up, and drink out of soggy straws for the good of the environment, some may say. But for others like myself, the struggle is real. It takes me practically all day to drink a smoothie, so about an hour in I’m trying to drink through a straw that is disintegrating. Sometimes I get little chunks of paper with my smoothie. For me, paper straws biodegrade in my belly.
This is why I opt for glass straws or metal straws . . . or even better, flavored edible straws! With the agave straw, we are offered yet another alternative the common plastic straw controversy. Who knew straws were such an integral part of society.
Compared to paper and metal straws, the agave-based product has a mouth-feel that’s similar to a traditional straw. Personally, the plastic straw mouth-feel doesn’t give me all the good feels, but I can understand that people like what they are used to, and they are used to the feeling of plastic.
I love the idea of taking materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or worse yet, being burned (gasp), and using them in other creative ways. Agave straws are partially made from the leftover agave fibers that are essentially waste from the tequila-making process. Cuervo says these fibers will replace about one-third of the polymers used in traditional straw production and they will decompose 200 times faster than regular plastic, meaning they will biodegrade in one to five years in a landfill.
“The past, present, and future of Jose Cuervo is tied directly to the agave plant – without it, we would not exist. As the tequila industry worldwide booms, it is our company’s responsibility as the leader to take care of the agave plant and ensure that we are producing tequila sustainably. It takes an average of 6 years to grow an agave plant before it is mature enough to harvest for tequila production, and we have to be committed to finding more ways to use the agave fibers once that process is complete. The debut of our biodegradable, agave-based drinking straws is a new step in utilizing the full potential of this very special Mexican agricultural product.”
What Can You Do?
Please don’t buy plastic straws or support them in establishments. There are so many cool alternatives to plastic now. There are straws made out of glass that won’t break, metal collapsible travel straw, bamboo, and even edible straws made from delicious flavors like chocolate and strawberry. We – you and I – can save the ocean and all of our sweet, adorable ocean friends one straw at a time.
As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.