the silicone SeaStraw: a symbol of sustainability and accessibility
The silicone SeaStraw is one of our most popular products in the LifeCycle Hospitality catalog. It has all the advantages of the plastic straw: durability, flexibility, and just the right thickness to enjoy sipping your favorite drink. But unlike its plastic analog, the silicone straw is reusable and a more sustainable option.
What makes it different from compostable and other reusable straws? Well, the fact that the silicone straw is friendly for everyone. Today, many are aware that the plastic straw crisis is real, and hence support putting bans or limits on plastic straws. However, what is often missed is that people with disabilities are in need of straws that are easy to bend, safe to use in cold and hot drinks, and have no injury hazards. Paper and steel straws cannot offer that. The silicone straws can.
At first, our silicone straw was not a part of our company's product range. It all began in the summer of 2018 when our founder Antonio reached out to the “Give a Sip” campaign run by the Wildlife Conservation Society (the WCS) after hearing about it over the radio. After getting to know each other better and bonding over mutual values, the WCS invited SeaProducts’ team to the NYC Plastic Straw Ban hearing.
The legislation was introduced by Rafael Espinal, NYC Council member, who argued that the current recycling methods are inefficient. Only 9% of all plastics get recycled, leaving recycling to individual corporations. So, Espinal believed the government had to take action in changing individuals’ behaviors by limiting consumption of plastic straws. The ban did not get passed, but it is worth noting that the proposed legislation succeeded in recognizing what many other laws fail to do. The proposed legislation made exceptions to people that require straws due to disability or a medical condition. That drew our team’s attention to how the current efforts to limit plastic-straw consumption often exclude people within this community. The SeaTeam began brainstorming ways they could contribute to solving that problem. This became the inspiration behind the Silicone Straw - our creation for innovation and accessibility.
The Plastic Straw Ban hearing gave LifeCycle a chance to make another long-lasting connection, this time with the Lonely Whale Foundation - a nonprofit aimed at promoting the reduction of plastic waste in oceans. The two companies have been in contact before that for a while. But it was at this event that they got to finally meet in person. The Lonely Whale Foundation was started in 2015 by actor Adrian Grenier (of Entourage fame), who is credited for starting the movement against plastic straws. The #stopsucking media challenge launched by this organization went viral on the web and attracted many celebrities to join the no-plastic-straw movement.
The conversation between LifeCycle and the Lonely Whale Foundation continued, leading to our company tabling at the Disability Pride Parade later in the summer of 2018. There, we got to test about 10 prototypes of the Silicone SeaStraw. The product received a lot of positive feedback and insights from parade’s participants. Based on suggestions from the members of the disability community, the perfect silicone straw - one that felt just like a normal plastic one - came to life.
In two years, the range of silicone SeaStraws has expanded to thicker versions, and they are now available for purchase in multiple colors and with customized logos. LifeCycle has sold and customized thousands of silicone straws for iconic restaurants, universities, and sustainability oriented brands and events throughout the U.S.
In October 2019, together with Miami's InterContinental luxury hotel, LifeCycle launched the #Limitless campaign. During the entire month of October (the Breast Cancer Awareness month), pink straws were used throughout the hotel - allowing guests to donate directly to the Robyn’s Rainbows foundation upon purchase. This sponsorship fund is dedicated to helping women to minimize hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Robyn’s Rainbows donates all received funds to cancer patients who can’t afford buying the DigniCap® Scalp Cooling System on their own - treatment proved to be effective in preventing hair loss by chemotherapy.
At LifeCycle Hospitality, we aim to continue partnering with companies that serve important social causes and offer products that cater to various needs. The silicone SeaStraw is one of them, and is a great reusable, light, and easy-to-wash option to enjoy any beverage. As we aim to do with all of our work, though, we believe that the silicone SeaStraw is more than a straw. Rather, our team believes it is a symbol of accessibility in the sustainability movement.
This article first appeared in our email newsletter on 4/15/2020. To subscribe to get engaging stories about our sustainable hospitality community direct to your inbox, click here!
Written by Kathrine Serebrianski