Alex Bennett, a Bangor native and 2004 graduate of Bangor High School, is going into the drinking straw business, and his straws will be made of straws.
If that sounds confusing, here’s a better explanation: Bennett, 28, is starting a business making drinking straws, utilizing a technique he discovered while living in Germany that turns ordinary straw — the kind you throw in a barn — into drinking straws. His name for his new product? Straw Straws.
“It’s actually a complicated procedure to make them, though it’s a pretty simple thing to source,” said Bennett. “It’s straw.”
Bennett, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for nearly five years until Dec. 2014, first came across straw straws while in Germany. After doing more research, he discovered that every day hundreds of millions of plastic drinking straws are used worldwide. If Bennett could find a way to mass produce his straw straws — made of a biodegradable, renewable resource — he could potentially make a big impact on the environment.
The German method of making straws is an old technique — after all, the German word for drinking straw is “strohhalm,” which is also the word for a stalk of grain. The original drinking straws were made from actual straws.
“They are strong, they are totally hygienic, and they are organic and good for the environment,” said Bennett, who is finishing up a degree at Suffolk University in Boston.
Bennett has partnered with Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association-certified farms in Kingfield and Parkman to grow the straw, grown from winter rye seed. Right now, he is having the straws made in Germany, though beginning in August the straw will be harvested in Maine, and eventually the straws will be made stateside as well. They are packaged in biodegradable cellophane and recycled cardboard.
Straw Straws LLC launched a Kickstarter in early June to help raise remaining startup funds for the business. So far, more than two-thirds of the needed $12,500 have been raised. For information, visit strawstraws.com/support or email firstname.lastname@example.org.