Feel Good

Small Oregon Business Made Glass Straws Before It Was Cool

Major businesses like Starbucks are giving up plastic straws, triggering both praise and protest from customers. You’ll start to see different materials like paper, straw, bamboo, and metal pop up. One workshop in Hood River, Oregon, has been making glass straws for over a decade and business is booming.

We use and throw away billions of plastic straws every year

When Craig Graffius started out, he took EcoGlass Straws to conferences and craft shows, but people weren’t that interested. They thought the straws were cool, but no one was buying. Instead of pouring money into marketing, Graffius refocused on the straws themselves. With thirty years of experience in the glass-making industry, Graffius knew the kind of quality he was after. The shatter-proof glass is from Germany and each straw is hand-shaped and polished. They’re also dishwasher-safe.

Within the last year, sales tripled. The 4-person shop is getting ready to make around 2,000 straws every hour. EcoGlass’ distributor, Foods Alive, has also begun marketing straws to individuals as well as retailers. You can find four styles on the EcoGlass website: standard, slim, thick, and straight with a double groove. A slim glass straw is perfect for sipping on cocktails while a thick straw is ideal for milkshakes. Some even come in a variety of colors like pink, teal, and green. As an Oregonian, I know what I’m asking for this Christmas!

A slim glass straw from EcoGlass Straws (image from site)

Why the sudden surge in business? A 2015 video of environmentalists removing plastic straws from the nose of a sea turtle horrified viewers. While plastic straws represent only 0.03% of the ocean’s plastic pollution, eliminating them from the picture is doable for most people.

More business means EcoGlass can cut their prices. In the past year, Graffius has reduced the wholesale price nearly in half. A new machine that will speed up cutting and polishing to that 2,000-straws-per-hour goal should allow for even more price reductions.