Porter Kennedy from SOstraws explains his passion for saving the environment, one paper straw at a time.
Our oceans are dying. There is more plastic waste polluting our oceans than ever before. Sea-life is being killed at an alarming rate. One of the worst culprits is the hundreds of millions of plastic straws used every single day. Fortunately, this isn’t where the story ends. SOStraws is a paper straw company that is dedicated to replacing plastic straws with environmentally-friendly paper straws. We donate 30% of our profits to charities like Ocean, Coral Reef Alliance, and The Ocean Conservancy.
I was sitting at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the White House in Washington DC last summer when the waiter brought out my drink with a straw in it. As I started to sip, I realized the straw felt different than what I was used to. I started to study it for a moment and observed that it was, in fact, made of paper. I am from Alabama where paper straws are rarely seen but the paper straw craze that has overtaken many big cities fascinated me. I started to do more research and my findings were a lot different from what I thought they would be. My initial thought after this encounter with paper straws at that rooftop restaurant in DC was that paper straws were a fun, novel item used in upscale restaurants and are simply a passing fad. My research showed a starkly different reality. The reason for paper straws is not their novelty or different feel; it was because of the harm that plastic straws are doing to the environment.
The problem with plastic straws is that, unlike other plastic items, straws are too small to be recycled because they fall through the sorting machines at recycling plants and ultimately end up with normal waste that is deposited into our oceans and other places. From there, plastic straws usually take approximately 200 years to degrade. Before they have a chance to biodegrade, plastic straws often become dangerous objects that attract sea turtles, large fish, and other creature because they are often seen as food. There have been several videos of plastic straws being extracted from sea turtle’s noses which truly shed light on the damage that plastic straws inflict.
After much deliberation, I decided to do something about this epidemic, so I enlisted the help of my friend Kressie Kornisand started SOStraws. We are both students at Auburn University in Alabama with a passion for the environment. SOstraws is a paper straw company that seeks to end the plastic straw crisis by 1; helping people switch from plastic to sustainable products and 2; donating a portion of our profits to charities that help save our oceans.
Young people are often the most environmentally aware among the population and that is why I think this is a product that students will love. In addition, students are often not as financially blessed yet at their age and SOstraws is a product that can fit their budget. At a very reasonable price of $6.99, customers get 50 SOstraws in our custom packaging with a percentage of our profits going to charities.
SOstraws are soggy-resistant, biodegradable, and compostable plastic straws with a bamboo design that can be bought on Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, and other mediums. We use paper packaging for our products and promote a culture of sustainability within our company. We plan on expanding our business in the coming months to restaurants, cafeterias, grocers, and retail stores along with rolling out more sustainable products that can help fight rampant pollution. When it comes to saving the environment, even the smallest actions can make a difference and with enough small actions, we can change our world for the better.
About the author: Porter is a finance student at Auburn University, Alabama, USA, and the cofounder of SOstraws.