Turning the tide on plastic pollution

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Meet the Mornington Peninsula-based social enterprise saving our oceans one sip at a time. When drinking from a straw, one’s mind doesn’t typically jump to plastic pollution in the ocean, but social entrepreneurs Jamie-Lee Kay and Lennart Meijer want to change that.

Jamie-Lee and Lennart are the founders of theotherstraw, a social enterprise helping the Peninsula and the rest of the world fight plastic pollution. According to Clean Up Australia, it is estimated that in Australia alone we use about 10 million single-use plastic straws every day. Most of these straws end up in our landfills, waterways and oceans, polluting our environment, affecting both current and future generations. More so, by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The good news? We can prevent this from happening. 

“We launched theotherstraw in October 2018 because we were shocked by the amount of plastic pollution on our local beaches and natural environments and we couldn’t sit back any longer and watch what was happening,” said Jamie-Lee. “We had to do something. We’ve now sold over 28,000 reusable bamboo straws, which has diverted over two million single-use plastic straws from our landfills, natural environments and oceans.” 

theotherstraw sells reusable, ethically-sourced bamboo straws to replace single-use plastic straws. Its products are sold online and there are more than 80 retailers and venues around Australia selling and using the reusable bamboo straws. 

“The past few months have been huge for us,” Lennart said. “We’ve partnered with the Urban List, Christmas Island Tourism Association, CAPI, and Pip magazine. We’ve also just been accepted into SPARK Deakin, an accelerator program backed by Deakin University to foster and help grow start-ups.” 

ING Bank has also selected theotherstraw to be part of its Dreamstarter crowdfunding campaign, backing businesses that are providing solutions to address Australia’s biggest social and environmental problems. Since 2013, ING Dreamstarter has helped 80 Australian social enterprises, supported more than 7500 financial pledges and contributed more than $1.8 million to helping businesses create positive change.

And this is where the Peninsula community comes in. Being selected for the ING Dreamstarter program requires theotherstraw to run a crowdfunding campaign. This is currently running until July 18. Jamie-Lee and Lennart hope to raise a minimum of $10,000, with a final goal of $20,000, and ING will pledge up to half of this.

“Crowdfunding is a great way to tell people what we are doing and asking people to give us a hand by chipping in $10, $20 or whatever amount they can so we can continue to grow our work and impact,”  Jamie-Lee said.

Jamie-Lee and Lennart have bigger plans and want their impact to go beyond straws — they want to launch their new range, theotheressentials, which will replace other single-use plastic items such as cutlery and bowls with reusable, sustainable alternatives. All contributions to the crowdfunding campaign will go towards producing this new range. 

“We want our beaches to be beautiful for our children and grandchildren in the future, but we can’t do it alone,” Lennart said. “Big businesses like ING are helping social enterprises such as theotherstraw do good, but in order to thrive they also need support from community members like you. Together, we can turn the tide on plastic pollution and protect our local beaches and natural environments. Your contribution can make a real difference — show your support for a plastic-free future by pledging to theotherstraw’s crowdfunding campaign today at ingaus.me/theotherstraw.”

Find out more at www.theotherstraw.com or on Instagram @theotherstraw

JAMIE-LEE KAY

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