A café owner is inspiring millions of people around the world to replace their plastic straws with more eco-friendly alternatives.

Sarah Tiu, who’s the manager of Café Editha in Siargao Island in the Philippines, recently started using ‘lukay’—rolled-up coconut leaves—as a cheap, biodegradable alternative for plastic straws in her restaurant.

Lukay is a Philippines native term for coconut or palm leaves.

In a recent interview, the cafe owner said she was impressed with the idea of how coconut leaves could be made into drinking straws.

During a family trip to Corregidor Island, Tiu ordered some drinks from a local business and was surprised to receive her beverage with a straw made out of ‘rolled-up coconut leaf.

Ms. Tiu told a media outlet:

“We bought fresh buko (coconut), and they just cut lukay, then made it into straws. So we asked them to teach us [how to make them].”

And once she had mastered the skill, Tiu started using them in her restaurant. She even shared a photo of her completed straws to the Café Editha Facebook page, where it was shared thousands of times around the world.

Ms. Tiu tries to eliminate as much plastic in her restaurant as she can. She explained that before coconut leaves straws, they had tried a couple of eco-friendly alternatives such as paper straws and steel straws, but customers didn’t like them.

With the help of her niece and nephew, she made a video demonstrating how to make theses coconut-leaved straws.

She also revealed each straw takes a few minutes to make, and her café crew makes them every morning before they open.

Her aim is to raise awareness about eliminating plastic wastes while promoting creative ways to care for our environment, which is already facing enormous plastic pollution.

Why Is Plastic Pollution So Much Worse Than Other Types of Pollution?

As we all know, plastic is a strong and durable material and the reason why we produce so much of it because it’s a cheap and durable solution.

The problem comes when these plastics are improperly thrown away, as they take a long time to break down naturally. Most plastics will last up to 450 years in the environments, and they don’t really ever disappear completely.

Instead, they break down into small pieces until microscopic. These tiny pieces never fully disintegrate and ultimately end up in the soil, the ocean, and wildlife’s bellies.

Despite knowing the adverse effects of plastic waste on the environment, our plastic consumption is growing exponentially.

In 1950, the world’s population was around 2.5 billion, and at the time, only 1.5 million tons of plastic had been produced.

But today, the current world population is 7.8 billion as of March 2020, and we’ve produced over 320 million tons of plastic. If we don’t start making conscious changes, these plastic wastes are set to double by the year 2034.