Armenia’s response to straws – bamboo. Photos
Gevorg Gasparyan has invented straws from bamboo stalks as an alternative to plastic. He calls his fight against plastic a “green revolution”.
According to a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), by 2030 the volume of plastic waste will increase by 40 percent.
The by-products of burning plastic can cause an increase in cancer rates and is responsible for the disappearance of hundreds of animal species. The Fund calls on all governments to reduce the production of plastic products and take necessary measures for the safe disposal of waste.
Gevorg lives in the town of Kapan in the Syunik region – in the very south of Armenia. He is 33 years old, he is a network administrator, but does not like sitting in front of the computer all day – he considers himself a man of nature and knows by heart all the hidden corners of these places.
After work, he organizes hiking and camping expeditions for tourists – both from Armenia and from other countries. He leads them through the forests and mountains of Syunik. He also finds time for beekeeping.
“The idea of eco-straws was suggested by one of my environmentalist friends. I began to study plants – more than a thousand that grow in the forests of our area. And I stopped on bamboo. Judging by what is written in the scientific literature, it is not poisonous, the roots are useful for the liver, it is used in medicine as a medicinal herb, the seeds are edible. And I started collecting bamboo and making models”, Gevorg says.
He is sure that bamboo tubes are safe for health, so that children can also use them. He says the straws do not have an unpleasant smell or taste, they are durable and can be used many times.
Gevorg usually goes to the forest before dawn. He carries a backpack, with breakfast and tools for collecting bamboo. He walks 15-20 kilometers on foot, by bike or by car, depending on the area where he is going this time.
Bamboo is found in the Kapan forests on high grounds. But it grows better where there is high humidity, because bamboo is found with there are readily available sources of water.
Gevorg has several hours to collect bamboo and return to the city – he does not like being late for work.
About a year ago, he announced the existence of his straws on Facebook – and he has already received many offers of cooperation from Armenia and from abroad. These are orders from environmental companies, cafes and people just interested in the idea.
“We use the straws Gevorg makes in our gastronomic studio. Firstly, we are against plastic, and secondly, we use only local products. This idea was a discovery for us. The straws look great, they are pleasant and convenient to use”, says Ani Harutyunyan, founder of the experimental kitchen of the Arm Food Lab studio.
Making the straws does not take much time. The green stems of bamboo can be turned into straws in a few minutes time. Then they need to be washed, dried and thermally treated in a special oven. That’s the whole process.
“Bamboo grows from spring to autumn. And during this time you need to collect and prepare material for the whole year. I also tried to make soft eco-straws from green bamboo stalks, but they become deformed in two or three days. And these durable tubes can be used for a long time – for months. From one bamboo, on average, you can get about five eco-straws. I’m still not thinking about a business – what I want is a green revolution, ” Gevorg says.
But numerous orders for the straws have forced him to think about opening a factory in Kapan – at least in the future.
“Now I do everything alone. Sometimes my family helps. If interest continues, I will consult with experts, maybe we will start growing bamboo. Perhaps, I will start a family business or, together with friends, expand the business, open jobs, create a brand. I am an optimist”, says Gevorg.