Find out how changemaker and Straw by Straw founder Ev Liu went from taking her first steps into sustainability to developing a plastic-free straw available at more than 100 locations in the Netherlands and abroad!
The seeds of an activist brand
“I can remember three moments that inspired me to launch my own solution to the plastic issue. The first was when a friend sailing around the world sent me a photo of a plastic bottle floating in open waters. I was shocked! The second moment was when I first dove in Thailand. All of the other divers were very eco-conscious and told me something that stayed with me: ““Whatever comes on board, does not go overboard. Don’t touch anything below the surface, but take back everything that doesn’t belong there!” The third was when I saw footage of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. That was the defining moment. I love animals so much, so I decided to do something about the plastic issue!
Changing mindsets, Straw by Straw
“When I began researching plastic waste policies, I found new laws that tackle single-use plastic bags and PET bottles. But no one was really doing something about plastic straws. And during my conversations on disposables, I always got a reaction when I mentioned straws; people would say ‘Oh, yes, I also use them!’ The straw became a symbol of plastic waste, something easily recognisable. With Straw by Straw, we raise awareness of plastic issue, particularly in the hospitality sector. But I believe that if we point to a problem, we should come up with a solution. So here’s the alternative: the most eco-friendly straw ever, made from wheat stalks left over from the yearly harvest!”
Advice for budding changemakers
“My biggest piece of advice is this: become an advocate for the plastic-free movement within larger companies or start building your own business! I feel that we are living in the early stage of sustainability startups. They are popping up everywhere and there is a lot of support available. Becoming an impact-driven entrepreneur is a great career move and the market for plastic waste solutions is wide open for you to claim your space! It took me only one dive to change career from the diamond industry into advocating for an eco-friendly world. If I can make this switch, everybody can!”
Are you a higher vocational or university student graduating on the topic of plastic waste or clean water? Sign up for the Dopper Changemaker Challenge by 12 April! You could win a €5,000 grant to boost your final Bachelor’s or Master’s project!
More about changemaker Ev
Ev Liu is an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Straw by Straw, makes of 100% natural, eco-friendly straws. Her brand won the 2018 Lidl Food Prize, which is awarded to an initiative in the fields of sustainable food production and consumption. Ev was also included on DJ100’s 2018 list of young sustainability leaders in the Netherlands. Thanks to her plastic-free efforts, she had the opportunity to talk about the plastic issue with Frans Timmermans, the First Vice-President of the EU Commission.
You can follow Ev on Instagram.