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Q&A Series: Sarah Keyes of EcoStraws
01 April 2020|News, Q&A Series

Guaranteed Irish member Ecostraws.ie, supplies many different eco-friendly, reusable straws and 100% biodegradable disposable straws to help reduce our reliance on single-use plastics.

Sarah Keyes, co-founder and Sales Director of Ecostraws, talks to Guaranteed Irish about how their business is playing their part in saving the planet.

Can you tell us a bit about your business? Can you tell us a bit about your business? 

EcoStraws.ie is a 100% Irish owned company, based in County Limerick. We were founded in October 2018 in response to the global pushback against single-use plastics, particularly plastic straws. We are the only company supplying a complete range of reusable & biodegradable alternatives to the plastic straw including glass, stainless steel, silicone, bamboo, paper, cPLA, pasta, wheat & edible straws. We supply the domestic, trade, retail & more recently corporate gift markets.

Founder and Managing Director, Brian O’Callaghan is a highly motivated professional with a 20-year track record of profitable small hospitality business ownership. Brian also co-founded a leading Irish Energy Services Company. Brian combines his interpersonal, entrepreneurial, negotiation, and mediation skills with his experience in the relevant sectors and looks forward to helping sway public opinion away from harmful plastic straws. As the Co-founder and Sales Director, I combine 20 years’ experience in the education sector with a background in hospitality and a passion for the environment. Working with An Taisce, I have been part of the Green Schools Education Programme which promotes sustainability in schools in Ireland.

Anthony Egan, combines 15 years’ experience in the hospitality sector with a B.Sc. in Environmental Science. Time spent analysing and monitoring local water bodies has given an insight into the finite resources available and the need to develop a sustainable way to protect them. Anthony’s additional experience in the Complementary Medicine sector provides the link between environmental science and human well-being.  

Seasonal fluctuations influence the number of employees at Ecostraws.ie and the current number of staff is generally less than 10. We envisage growth in this area in the coming months as we endeavour to grow the business nationally & internationally.

What are the challenges that you face in your business and how do you work to overcome them particularly in the current climate?

As we are currently in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, business is facing extraordinary challenges. EcoStraws.ie continues to trade on-line and we are shipping orders on a daily basis, thanks in no small part to An Post and our local courier company.  We are also in contact with all our retailer partners assuring them of our support in this difficult trading period.

Ecostraws are the first to premiere collapsible straws, how does that work and what inspired you to make such a product?

Believe it or not, the Foldable EcoStraw was the first product in the EcoStraws arsenal! It was developed in response to a need for convenience when switching to reusables. The foldable straw is a silicone tube encased in stainless steel. It folds neatly into its’ own carry case and can be easily carried in a pocket or bag or hung from your keychain.

The Foldable then led us on to the Collapsible EcoStraw; a stainless steel tube that collapses like a telescope and slides into a sleek stainless steel container. This incredible product is no bigger than a pen and just as light. It is a personal straw, ideal for those on-the-go who want to opt for the reusable alternative.

What role do eco-friendly straws play in protecting the planet?

Eco-friendly reusables play a key role in protecting the planet. In Ireland alone, we use 1 million plastic straws every day. These single-use straws cannot be recycled and either go to landfill, incineration or are simply discarded in the countryside.  Once discarded, straws, because of their size and weight are carried in the wind, ingested by wildlife, fall into drains and inevitably make their way into our oceans.

By switching to reusable products we reduce the reliance on single-use plastics like straws, bottles, cups & lids and in turn contribute to reducing waste and protecting our planet.

What made you decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?

The Guaranteed Irish logo is an internationally recognised symbol of excellence. It has also a beacon of support to Irish businesses for almost 50 years. As a member of Guaranteed Irish, EcoStraws.ie offers consumers a trusted brand, helping them to make better choices for themselves and to support Irish jobs in doing so.

Ecostraws provide the widest range of choice when it comes to non-plastic straws, do you have a personal favourite yourself?

That’s like choosing a favourite child! 😊 But seriously I do have a couple of preferences. When I’m at home I love the elegance of glass straws. They add glamour to a cocktail or provide the perfect material for drinking hot drinks. I’m a fan of drinking lemon water & a glass EcoStraw helps to protect my tooth enamel from damage. When I’m out and about I choose the collapsible EcoStraw. It’s always attached to my keychain ensuring I am never without my personal straw in bars & restaurants.  

What can we expect forEcoStraws in the future and do you have plans to expand to other product offerings?

We are always researching and trying to develop new products that align with consumer demand. Convenience is key when encouraging a more sustainable lifestyle and we at EcoStraws.ie believe that our reusable products go a long way in achieving this. We currently have close to 80 products on our website ensuring there’s something for everyone. We also have an expanding network of retailers and corporate clients who are promoting sustainability across the globe.