reed straws

Handmade reed straws from Oaxaca are sucking the life out of plastic

Reed straws have become an alternative to the traditional plastic because, in addition to having a short lifespan, they do not harm the environment.

In Oaxaca, particularly in the San Juan Guelavia community, local artisans have focused on the production of reed straws, made from a plant and being biodegradable.

In an interview, artisan Felipe Martínez García explains that, because the plastic straw is already on its way out, the new alternative is reed, which is being developed in this community, where, for example, he has an order of more than five thousand pieces that he is fulfilling now.

The production of the straw is 100 percent handmade, using no tools in the manufacturing.

The reed is collected in the field, then they choose the thinnest ones. “First we took out the smallest carricitos and tried to make it one size and then we passed a nail through so that it opens up where the knot is and we took a rod to clean it inside,” he says.

The edges are cleaned to fine-tune the straw and prevent splinters from remaining, their lifespan is five to six months; it is estimated that in his whole life a person uses, on average, 38 thousand straws.

Reed pieces have gained new meaning and now have become a friendly option for the environment that seeks to displace the use of plastic straws.

Felipe Martínez began at age 22 to develop handicrafts, as an inheritance from his father; his technique has been perfected over the years.

He started with baskets and little by little he developed other types of products and models. His favorite pieces are lampshades because they require more creativity to make all kinds of models and sizes.

In addition, for him, there is no machinery or work instrument that matches what he does with his hands, a technique that has allowed him to export to countries such as Panama and Canada.

About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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