Ada, MN chain maille company Weave Got Maille is making an effort to tackle the environmentally unfriendly use of plastic straws with the launch of a new company, 13 Straws, which will produce reusable straws made of anodized aluminum.
Edie Ramstad, who founded Weave Got Maille and Premier Anodizing, is now launching 13 Straws to encourage the use of reusable material in straws over plastic. Ramstad will present about the company at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, January 23.
The idea for 13 Straws goes back to a birthday party held for one of Weave Got Maille’s staff members, during which someone mentioned the US uses 500 million plastic straws a day. As is natural when a bit of hard-to-swallow trivia comes up at a social gathering today, Ramstad said others immediately used their phones to Google the fact and verify it. They learned it was true; 500 million straws a day are used, averaging out to 1.6 straws per person per day in the US.
“Right now there’s over 500 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean,” Ramstad said.
13 Straws is making use of material already being produced by Weave Got Maille and its sister company, Premier Anodizing—anodized aluminum tubes, with minor adjustments to aspects like the diameter of the tubes so they can be used for smoothies and other types of beverage.
Of course, the original tubes weren’t designed dishwasher-safe, so one of the most tested aspects of the new aluminum straws was how they fared with cleaning.
“We just washed them over and over again,” Ramstad said.
When they were nearly satisfied that the straws were able to withstand washing, they decided to try one last wash with powdered dish soap instead of liquid and found it destroyed the straws, sending the company back to work to fix the issue.
13 Straws also has the capability to etch their straws, which could be desirable for businesses. Restaurants looking to use sustainable straws could have their names or logos etched onto their straws, and they could even allow their customers to take them home if they liked.
The aluminum straws have the added benefit that they lack some of the chemicals used in plastic straws, like BPA.
“Part of what makes Premier Anodizing special is all of our dyes are organic,” Ramstad said. She also noted aluminum is the third most common element found on Earth, and a fairly sustainable one.
“It can go from the scrap pile to the supermarket in 60 days,” she said. 13 Straws takes its name from aluminum’s atomic number, although Ramstad suggested it could be interpreted another way too.
“If people only used 13 recyclable aluminum straws in their life, think of how much plastic we would save,” she said.
The company is trying to have the straws ready by January 22, prior to the 1 Million Cups Fargo presentation. They have already taken the idea to the North Dakota Mayors’ Convention, where Ramstad said the feedback was positive.
The new company has given Weave Got Maille’s staff a new purpose to work for.
“The employees are really jumping on it,” Ramstad said. “It’s kind of bringing everybody together with a cause.”
1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park. 13 Straws will soon launch a website at the URL 13straws.com, at which more information about the company will be available.