Bamboo Straws: The Bigger Picture

Choosing a bamboo straw over a plastic one may not seem like a big effort, but our vision is part of a much bigger picture. It all started with an every-day scenario, and a very simple solution.

The Cinnamon Hotel and the Mint Café are operated by Discovery Indochina, a local tour company. While leading a tour in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, the group stopped for a rest and refreshments. It was a typical hot, humid day, and the guests asked for fresh coconuts as they had seen so many in the trees around them. As a local man went get a knife to cut the coconuts, the group realized they had nothing with which to drink the fresh coconut water. When he suggested he cut some bamboo to be used as  straws, this brilliantly simple solution became a larger idea that was too good to pass up.

Bamboo Straw Tourism

We like to tell this story because, for us, it demonstrates how bamboo straws are the perfect made-in-Vietnam solution: for local communities, for educational awareness, and for authentic tourism.

Our bamboo straw project supports gender equality, by providing an additional source of income to the Mường women who harvest bamboo and produce the straws. When women can support their families, they can stay in their communities instead of having to leave and look for other work. Our straws use smaller bamboo species than the ones harvested for construction. By diversifying the types of bamboo they harvest, these women's livelihoods are less at risk. Finally, while bamboo straws may be a newer product, this type of work preserves their traditional skills - like small-scale bamboo harvesting - and encourages the Mường ethnic group to keep their culture alive.

Want to do more?

If this story inspires you to learn and do more, there are lots of ways you can help:

  • Support the bamboo straw project, help us distribute straws, and share our education campaign with the world! A small donation will go directly to producing and donating straws. Contact us to find out how.
  • Visit Thung Nai: Discovery Indochina leads two-day, one-night homestay trips, where you can meet Mường farmers, see the beautiful Da River, and try making your own bamboo straw.
  • Promote the Open Hope Library project: Thung Nai has a local chapter of this social responsibility project, which gives books and reading programs to remote villages and orphanages. A small donation of books or funds makes a huge difference to the community - a library truly brings people together. Find out more about this project, and how you can help.

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