Even though single-use plastic is banned in India, most shops and restaurants still use them. Bengaluru native and civil engineer Shiva Manjesh has come up with a substitute for plastic/paper straws which are castor stems.
He started experimenting with the stems at home two years ago. A conversation with his father about how castor stems were used as straws during his childhood inspired Shiva to revisit this concept.
He then collected about 100 stems and soaked them in hot water to remove dirt and other particles. One set of these stems were dried under sunlight and the other set was refrigerated.
During this experiment, Shiva found that fresh stems can be used up to 10 times and dried ones up to six months which merge with the soil within a day.
He initially distributed these eco-friendly straws to local vendors and restaurants for free. As the demand grew, he began collecting stems from farmers and selling them for Re 1 per straw.
So far, he has distributed over 1,000 castor straw stems to vendors for free. All the money from this venture is given to the farmers.