Interview with Mark from GIOP Straws -The alternative to plastic straws

Welcome back to Hashtag Love Local (#Love Local), the initiative that highlights the importance of the economic pillar of sustainability and the benefits of shopping locally. Here at The Sustainability Strategy, we are standing behind and supporting six of our favourite Irish businesses.  Today, we sit down for an interview with Mark from GIOP Straws. GIOP (Grass Instead Of Plastic) was born three years ago when Mark lived in Vietnam. The business aims to help reduce Ireland’s contribution to the current plastic epidemic and help re-educate people on making the right sustainable choices through the supply of dried grass drinking straws.

Alternative to Plastic Straw

How long has your business been in operation?

The idea for GIOP straws was born 3 years ago when I was living in Vietnam. I moved back to Ireland in July 2019 to launch GIOP straws to the Irish market, and we have been blown away by the reaction we have received so far.

What inspired you to set up your business?

I have always had a passion for sustainability, and when I was introduced to the grass straws in Vietnam, it was a light bulb moment. 

Ireland still uses a substantial amount of single-use plastic straws, and as a result of this, we see the market is flooded with alternatives that unfortunately produce more carbon emissions than plastic straws, e.g., paper straws that produce 70% more energy than plastic straw production. The opportunity to help reduce Ireland’s contribution to the current plastic epidemic and re-educate people on making the right sustainable choices is what inspires us every day. 

How did you come up with the name of your business?

GIOP straws = Grass Instead Of Plastic straws

A common phrase kept coming to mind at the early stages of the company – ‘grass instead of plastic.’ So we decided to take the starting letters of this phrase, and GIOP was created! We pronounce it like ‘G(as in the letter G) – OP.’

What was your mission at the outset?

Our mission from the outset was to bring Ireland a natural and sustainable alternative to single-use plastic and paper straws. We want to empower people to make sustainable changes in their daily lives and spread the message that small changes can help secure our planet for future generations.

What type of product do you sell/ produce?

We supply dried grass drinking straws as an alternative to plastic and other machine-made straws. 

We have a wholesale department that supplies cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. We think we can make the most significant environmental impact due to the high volumes of straws used in these establishments.

We also have a retail pack of 50 straws available to purchase on our website www.giopstraws.com for people to enjoy at home.

To what do you attribute your success?

We have had a great reaction on social media to our straws and have had great support from Irish influencers on our Instagram (@giopstraws). This platform has been so important to help to get our message out to a wider audience. The Irish public has got behind us and has helped to support a local Irish start-up. We have also received huge support from the Irish media and were thrilled to be interviewed on ‘The Elaine Show’ and also to have our straws featured in the Sunday Independent’s ‘LIFE’ Magazine and ‘VIP’ magazine.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2hdFo_lNQL/

What is unique about your business?

Our grass straws are a natural, sustainable, and compostable alternative to what is currently available in Ireland. By choosing to use a GIOP straw, our customers are actively seeking to make better choices that will not negatively impact our planet.

How does your business help the customer/community?

We have developed strong relationships with our supply base in Vietnam are proud to work alongside the local developing communities working on the organic bio farms where our grass straws are grown. These communities rely on the export of these grass straws that are grown in rural areas on the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam, so we are delighted to support it.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far from setting up your business?

We have learned that people are more open to making sustainable changes in their daily lives than sometimes they are given credit for! Our Irish customers have really embraced GIOP straws and are re-ordering, which is a testament to the Irish people’s adaptability. 

In uncertain times such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic, we have also learned that people are actively seeking out Irish companies to support, which has been so appreciated.

Has your business set any sustainability polices, if so, would you care to share them?

Our grass straws are compostable and can be disposed of in your food waste bin. We have also made a conscious effort to ensure that all of our packaging is recyclable.

Where can the reader find more out about your business (website & social links)

Website: www.giopstraws.com

Instagram: @giopstraws 

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

Choose Grass Instead OPlastic straws!

Thank You For Reading

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this interview with Mark from Giop Straws.  Every two weeks, The Sustainability Strategy will run a feature blog on one of the six brands featuring in Hashtag Love Local, giving them the platform to discuss their business and showcase their sustainability policies.

The Sustainability Strategy aims to build a community that feels free to discuss their environmental views openly. If you enjoyed this interview with Mark from GIOP Straws and would like to see similar sustainable content, you can find me on Facebook,  TwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Keep it Green,

Sarah

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