Holy City Straw Company

An orange drink in a tall glass sits on a counter in the center of the frame in the foreground. In the blurred background, two people sit at a table on either side of the drink. Holy City Straw Company.

It’s easy to dismiss sustainable straws when talking about the fight against the climate crisis. After all, what can one simple straw possibly accomplish? More than you think. 

Plastics are a huge problem for the environment. They account for more than 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), most of which come from plastic production. Once produced, a lot of plastic is single-use and ends up in landfills. If things stay the same, there will be a 50% increase in macroplastics leakage by 2040 (30 million tonnes per year). 

One of the biggest offenders of single-use plastic is the food service industry, but Holy City Straw Company, a certified green business, is changing the game—and your role in helping create a more just and sustainable world. 

Step Aside, Paper Straws 

Paper straws were an answer to plastic straws, but since their introduction, the problems have been uncovered: more PFAs, or “forever chemicals,” and dangerous amounts of GHG emissions. Additionally, the energy to produce paper straws is actually quite a bit higher than even plastic straws.

“We wanted an alternative to paper that was truly sustainable,” explains Nick Kushuba, one of Holy City Straw’s  Co’s owners.

The company settled on 100% plant-based options and found success with wheat and reed stems. Sturdy and completely biodegradable, these plants allowed the company to offer not only true sustainability, but also options that paper can only dream of, like boba or milkshake straws. 

“It’s also about supporting a circular economy,” Kushuba adds. “After grain harvesting to provide wheat, you have these big stalks of wheat stems that are sometimes used as cattle feed, but often burned as a waste product. And we have more wheat acreage in the state of Nebraska to almost replace every drinking straw in the world. Think about that.” 

It’s not simply about creating and using less plastic, or sending less waste to the landfill, but striving for a world where our resources are treated as precious. 

In Holy City Straw’s products, there are no biodegradable chemical agents mixed in to help a product break down—it does so completely naturally, in any environment. This also helps if people don’t have a way to compost, and to help customers understand that compostable and biodegradable are not the same thing

Learn more about the differences between biodegradable and compostable at Holy City Straw Company's blog.

Sustainable boba straw from Holy City Straw Company
A sustainable boba straw from Holy City Straw Company.

Penny for Your Plastic 

Places around the world—like Irvine, CA and the entirety of Canada, believe it or not—are taking steps to ban single-use plastic, and your voice can help make this a reality in your city. 

Kushuba notes there are many reasons why sustainable transitions can be difficult for both people and places to adopt. In the food service industry, he mentions the cost of sustainable materials amidst the financial strain of keeping a business’ lights on. 

“They’ve been spoiled spending a penny on a plastic drinking straw that when you give them a 100% plant-based straw for three cents, they think, ‘Oh my god, this is a 200% increase,’” he acknowledges. 

“But a lot of people are willing to spend more for sustainability.” 

Businesses, Kushuba says, must communicate this to their customers—cost increases to support a sustainable transition—and they’ll find a “tremendous response rate.” 

So, the next time you’re at your favorite bar or restaurant, talk to a manager about making the switch to more sustainable materials and that you’d even be willing to pay a little extra for them. Bonus points: You already have a certified green business they can work with to supply their new wheat and reed straws. 

But don’t stop there. 

Get in touch with your city council and encourage them to not only adopt a single-use plastic ban, thereby mandating business’ make changes, but enforce it, which Kushuba says is a “major challenge.” 

“Often, these bans are band-aids,” he says. “Because no one is actually checking on the businesses to make sure they’re rid of single-use plastic.” 

When you contact your city council or other officials, be prepared with evidence to support your demands, like the damage plastic is doing to our planet and how other cities are adopting change and enforcement—like Montreal fining up to $4,000 for disobeying Canada’s single-use plastic ban. 

If bans become more commonplace, and businesses see for themselves that customers are happy to monetarily support the path towards progress, Kushuba is confident that the power of a single straw can help win the fight against plastic pollution. 

Photo credit
Unsplash: Louis Hansel