Ortley Beach man creates grass straws, helping Jersey Shore restaurants reduce plastic waste

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An Ortley Beach man created grass straws to replace plastic ones in some Jersey Shore restaurants.

The Senate Budget committee in Trenton passed a bill Thursday for a statewide ban on plastic bags.

MORE: Senate Budget Committee votes in favor of plastic bag ban 

Sen. Bob Smith, a sponsor of the bill, says, "We cannot afford to wait any longer to act while our waterways and ecosystems suffer ... the amount of plastic in our oceans will soon outweigh all of the fish in the ocean combined."

While plastic straws won't be outright banned with bill, they would be available only on restaurants' request. Otherwise, paper straws would be used.

But Bob Farrell has come up with another alternative – a grass straw. Unlike paper, Farrell says these straws last long enough to be reused several times.

When they are thrown out, Farrell says, "The are 100% natural, biodegradable, compostable." The straws are made from Lepironia grass, which grows in Vietnam.

Farrell has them harvested, cut, cleaned, and started shipping them to the U.S. six months ago.
At eight cents a straw, he's already got some in a Lavallette coffee shop and at the Surf Taco in Belmar, where plastic bags are already banned.

Farrell says, as a full-time resident of Ortley Beach he has seen firsthand, in his backyard the effect of plastics on the ocean.

"We love the beach we love to surf. We want to do what we can. It's great to be able to give back," he says.

Farrell not only has the grass straw gaining traction in New Jersey, but also in parts of Los Angeles county and North Carolina.

Clean Ocean Action reports, 80% of all trash that washes up on the beach is plastic.

Over two-dozen cities and townships in the State already have bans on plastic bags.



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