A new idea with an ancient pedigree, dating back thousands of years to prehistoric Mesopotamia, has been repurposed by an enterprising group of volunteers in the northern Greek city of Kilkis as they searched for a way to phase out plastic straws.
“Staramaki” is a portmanteau word combining the Greek word for straw, “kalamaki,” with the Greek word for wheat, “stari.” Straws were used thousands of years ago by the Mesopotamians to drink their beer, as a way to avoid drinking the sediment at the bottom.
Wheat just happens to be the main crop produced in the Kilkis area.
Essentially made from the long shafts, or stems, of wheat, which are normally discarded, the “staramaki” will now be pressed into service once again, providing a brilliant, all-natural solution to the problem of plastic pollution.
The creative idea also shows that there is room for innovative thought in Greece, and that the cyclical economy can become a fertile field for such ingenuity in Greece, according to Costas Kamberis, president of the volunteer group “Omnes.”
Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency’s radio station “Praktoreio 104.9 FM” on Wednesday, Kamberis described how the group is collaborating with producers, organizations and enterprises in the city to enable “staramaki” to be distributed to professionals for commercial development.
Clearly, he said, the “new” product can easily be a successor to the plastic straws we use today.
“The staramaki will be not be ‘run’ by some company that will seek to profit exclusively,” Kamberis said. He explained that the “staramakia” will not be sold but rather ‘traded’ for used coffee grinds, which are normally thrown out.
“The staramaki will be launched in July and we will ask the cafeterias and people that drink coffee to keep the coffee grinds because they have value. If collected properly, they can be transformed to something else; the aim is to have an exchange operation,” Kamberis explained.
The second phase of the project is to set up a system where the “natural straws” made from wheat stems are traded for compostable coffee grounds, thus also changing people’s mindsets about what is useful.
The “Staramaki” initiative also hopes to revive the economy in the Kiklis area, which has suffered due to the wheat monoculture, and provide jobs which will keep young people in the area.
See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Greekreporter.com. Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!