A local man has developed a ground-breaking product aimed at helping to save the environment.
Bert Balas, who lives just outside of Orillia in Warminster, has created The Straw, a stainless steel drinking straw that was developed to replace the large masses of plastic waste left in the wake of single-use plastic straws.
After learning that there are over 1 billion straws being used every day globally, and getting tired of seeing plastic waste around local trails and lakes, Balas set out to make a change.
“I wanted to see a better alternative than what was out there. We wanted to do something for the environment,” Balas said.
"I’m a nature lover, I like the outdoors and it’s just disgusting when you're walking through the woods and see straws, paper cups all over the place. It’s garbage everywhere and it’s not a good future to leave for the kids," said Balas.
His versatile straw comes in a small case and is about the size of a cigarette lighter. It is easy to clean by using fluids such as water or mouthwash and it’s also self rinsing. The straw has four different parts that you can screw together to make four different sizes depending on the drink.
“I have one in my pocket, you can have it on your keychain or put it on a lanyard and carry it around with you,” Balas explained.
“It’s something people will use for years and everyone seems to love it.”
This past winter, Balas gave his new invention to Trombly’s Tackle Box to see how many local people were interested in the product. However, not long after, the local retailer closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been tragic but we’ve turned to our online platform and that’s been successful,” Balas said.
Successful might be an understatement. Just weeks after being launched online, sales of Balas’ straw have surged.
Despite not being able to sell the straw in local retailers because of the pandemic, more people are becoming interested in the product due to the public health risks that will be involved when restaurants re-open.
“People are becoming scared. Someone hands you a glass and now you’re touching it and putting your lips up to it ... you don’t know who’s touched what,” Balas explained.
“I don’t want to take advantage of a bad situation, but with COVID people are now more conscious of it, so it’s a good thing to help keep people safe.”
Currently, Balas and his business partners are deciding on a charity to donate to for every straw sold. They are also hoping to donate their straws for restaurants to use instead of giving out any more plastic straws.
The Straw is being sold for around $30. You can find it and more information on their website.
He is offering OrilliaMatters readers a 15% discount. Just type orilliamatters into the coupon code section.