In the midst of changing conversations about plastic waste and pollution, an increasing number of people are advocating for lessened plastic consumption: switching from paper to plastic bags at grocery stores, carrying reusable water bottles and cutting down on plastic straw usage.
For University of Georgia sophomore Meredith Grill, her advocacy comes in the form of the latter category: decreasing plastic straw usage through a small sustainable business.
Grill is the owner of Stylin Straws, an Etsy shop that sells $5 BPA-free silicone and rubber reusable straws that can double as accessories — bracelets, keychains and the like. The straws come with a small plastic piece that connects two ends of the straw in a circular shape.
The product, which appears like one straw, separates into two separate straws: one cover and one on the inside to protect from bacteria. The dishwasher friendly-product also comes with a straw cleaner.
Grill, a marketing and international business major, came up with the idea to produce her straws when she ran into a problem with the current reusable straw trend and the lack of convenience in carrying a reusable straw to use on the go. Grill then opened the shop in mid-November.
“I saw everyone using reusable straws, but I could never get into it for some reason because I am so forgetful, and I always lose stuff, and I would always lose my straws,” Grill said.
Grill currently sells straws in any variety of colors — from lime green to hot pink — that her Etsy customers choose, along with pre-set color combinations for every Panhellenic sorority. The straws are hand-cut to size based on the wrist of the customer, Grill said.
Grill has sold around 60-70 straws as of press time. Natalie Henderson, a junior landscape architecture major, is a past customer of Grill’s and considering buying another straw.
Henderson said she would recommend the straws to her friends and other individuals around campus who are looking to become more sustainable in everyday life.
“My favorite part about the straws is that they are different from metal straws because they become a bracelet, which makes them a lot more convenient, and makes it a lot easier to remember to use it,” Henderson said.
Grill is a member of UGA’s Undergraduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship program, which guides students as they pursue the start of their own business. She aims to make her straws available for purchase in Jittery Joe’s and Zombie Coffee and Donuts soon and grow her small business into her own company.
“I had the idea for this business before I even started classes for my certificate, and I have been meeting with my entrepreneurship professor one-on-one ever since,” Grill said. “This is also a learning experience for me, because owning my own business is my dream.”