But even more exciting than its edibility is the Lolistraw's hyper-compostability.
Did you know that Americans use and throw away 500 million straws every day? This number is tough to visualize, but one source has described it as "enough straws to wrap around the Earth's circumference 2.5 times each day." Because they are so small, straws cannot be recycled and usually end up in landfills and waterways, where they linger indefinitely, harm wildlife, and mar the natural beauty.
While convincing people not to use straws at all would be the best option, it's a tough sell. As a result, some companies have come up with alternatives, but these have their downsides. Reusable straws made of glass or metal are expensive and often get forgotten at home. Paper straws work well for short periods of time, but eventually turn mushy. Bioplastic straws feel exactly like regular straws, but bioplastics themselves are questionable materials. (Learn more here.)Knowing all this, we at TreeHugger were curious to learn about the Lolistraw. Made by the same designers who came up with Loliware, the edible cup that made a splash in 2015 with its appearance on Shark Tank, the Lolistraw is another edible single-use product made of seaweed. Its color and flavor come from fruit and vegetable pigments.
While being able to "have your straw and eat it, too" is certainly a fun concept, what's most impressive about the Lolistraw is that it's hyper-compostable. The straw's designers Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker coined this term to describe a straw that breaks down easily, leaving no traces. It is compostable in a backyard composter (as opposed to many compostable items that require an industrial facility), and it breaks down in waterways, posing no lasting threat to wildlife. When this happens, as Briganti pointed out during a conversation with TreeHugger, the seaweed goes back to its natural environment, closing the loop.
Briganti and Tucker's goal is to target high-waste venues, such as theme parks, stadiums, fast-casual franchises, and coffee shop chains, where straws are used in large quantities. There's even the possibility of offering specially flavored straws, based on the context, such as a vanilla-flavored straw to accompany a coffee beverage or a vitamin-infused straw to go with your post-workout smoothie.
"We want to replace plastic straws, and Loliware's mission as a whole is that products should be designed to disappear; therefore, if they are to exist at all, our main mission is to make sustainability fun and experiential."
Lolistraw has a Kickstarter campaign that's live until 10 January 2018. It hopes to raise $30,000 to help launch the new product by next summer.