SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — A youth non-profit organization hoping to raise awareness of the severity of environmental problems caused by plastic straws and encouraging the use of eco-friendly straws has appeared in the headlines.
The non-profit organization, Tong Gam, whose 150 members are mostly university students, was established in 2016 with the aim of voicing social issues through action-type projects.
The organization sets one major social issue every year. This year it started a project to reduce the use of plastic straws.
Organizers designated the 11th of every month as “Straw Day” starting in May of this year to minimize the use of straws.
Instead of plastic straws, cooperative cafes provide straws made from alternative materials such as corn or paper.
Straw makers and the Beautiful Foundation will support all the cafes using alternative straws for sympathizing and sharing their vision.
Members of the organization have created cooperative relationships with 80 small cafes at universities by going door to door to convince the cafes to use alternative straws.
The organization says that their efforts are having an impact on everyday life.
“Our goal was to reduce annual consumption of plastic straws by 100,000, but it is estimated that we have reduced it by 80,000 to 90,000 so far through collaboration with cafes,” said Jin Ji-hong, a representative of Tong Gam.
Among a variety of substitutes such as paper, silicon and bamboo, the most popular alternative has proven to be corn straws. Corn straws are made of biodegradable corn starch, and have a similar texture and exterior to plastic straws.
The problem is the price. Alternative straws usually cost 10 to 20 times more than plastic straws.
“A system in which consumers pay extra for using plastic straws, similar to allotted charges for plastic bags, should be implemented,” added Jin.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)