A number of young Vietnamese people tend to forgo the use of plastic drinking straws in a collective effort, NoStrawChallenge, to alleviate negative impacts on the environment.
Several environmentally-minded groups wishing to reduce the popularity of plastic straws have appeared, although such a commitment has not developed to a massive scale, according to the Vietnam Green Generation Network, an organization of Vietnamese youth spreading eco-friendly messages.
Many beverage shops have begun using non-plastic straws, including The Organik House, Pilosa Garden, which are in Ho Chi Minh City; To Chim Xanh (‘Blue Bird Nest’), and Reng Reng Cafe, located in Hanoi.
Adopting the NoStrawChallenge attitude, Minh Huong said followers of this trend should maintain discipline in order to eschew indulgence.
“Initially it’s very hard to do NoStrawChallenge, because I used plastic straws habitually. In a moment after using a drink from a cup, I found myself unconsciously throwing away the plastic straw, cup lid and nylon bag that went with the cup. It’s unnerving to know how harmful such unnecessarily wasted plastic items I dispose of automatically are to the environment,” she said.
She observed that bubble milk tea and smoothies have been sold in plastic cups as take-aways so often that the containers have been inextricably associated with the drinks.
“I don’t want to see NoStrawChallenge as a sort of fashion, since fashion is only short-lived. Reducing the amount of plastic trash, though at a personal level, is still meaningful and brings about long-term benefits for human life and the environment,” she added.
Quynh Nhien, a sophomore at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, has developed a liking for the straw challenge after she was given a stainless steel straw.
“If the restaurant fails to avoid straws, visit that place many times, and ask it to give you no straw each time you order drinks,” she said, mentioning her awareness-raising tactic.
Materials to replace plastic in producing straws may be bamboo, stainless steel, glass and silicon, according to Dang An, owner of Hanoi-based Sap Hang Chang Sen (‘Kiosk of a Lad Named Sen’), which only provides various non-plastic products and has risen to great popularity amongst eco-friendly consumers in Vietnam.
“I’m really happy to see the no-plastic-straw practice becoming increasingly widespread. Non-plastic straws were strangers to people a year ago,” he said.
In the past he was reluctant to introduce this type of product for fear that customers might feel displeased, but now he has received orders from multiple users.
He said this tendency heralds a positive change, sharpening general awareness of potentially enormous environmental detriments caused by small objects like straws.