Tran Minh Tien, 32, runs his company 3T which produces grass straws, from a village deep in the Mekong river delta, west of Ho Chi Minh city, where wild gray sedge grass grows in swampland.

“Right from the start, I formed this idea around the fact that the harvesting can never exceed the grasses’ natural reproduction rate,” Tien said. 

But he knows his straws will not be a permanent fix given the limited supplies of the grass in Vietnam, the world’s fourth-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution, according to a 2015 study by the University of Georgia.

“I came up with the grass straws as a temporary substitute to plastic straws to reduce part of the damage they cause to the environment.” 

Photographed for Reuters, December 2019. 

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