Inside a drab warehouse on the outskirts of Fort Bragg, David and Gail are bringing to life a new food utensil: Glass straws.
“Glass is an excellent replacement for single use plastic straws,” explains Gail Johnson, who with her partner David Leonhart own Glass Dharma.
Leonhart began blowing glass more than 15 years ago. While working for Pacific Glassworks in Fort Bragg, he began making glass straws and thereafter ran with it.
The company employs 2 part time glass blowers at their warehouse, which is stocked full of glass straws ready to go out to order. If you think the concept is a little odd, carrying around a glass straw, think again. It’s quickly growing according to Johnson. Glass dharma has over 100 retailers with distributors in Canada, Austrailai, Eurpope, Singpore and Taiwan.
“As of the beginning of 2012, GlassDharma’s shipping numbers total over 200,000 straws world-wide,” continues Johnson, “We have shipped to every state in United States and to 37 other countries.”
Glass Dharma was featured as a green, plastic-free business in Beth Terry’s book, My Plastic Free Life, chronicling Terry’s quest to stop using plastics. She found Glass Dharma and featured the company in her book and on her blog, www.myplasticfreelife.com. Glass Dharma’s policy is to be as green and plastic-free as possible.
ForLeonhart who grew up in the radicalizing days of the 1960′s and 1970′s operating a business that sustains the environment is important, a sentiment shared by Johnson.
“One glass straw replaces thousands of plastic straws. Each time you use your glass straw, it equals one less plastic straw ending up in your landfill,” cites Johnson.
According to the ocean advocacy group, Save Our Shores, 90% of ocean trash is plastic that comes from landfills. Because most plastics are not recyclable, they fill up landfills and end up in the ocean. Once in the ocean, plastics leach out chemicals, polluting the water and are ingested by marine life.Using less plastic and reusable products helps preserve the environment and it now supports the local economy. Glass Dharma’s commitment isn’t just to selling glass straws, it’s also to phasing out plastics from their work.
“We also work very hard to use no plastic in our shipping or packaging as well as many “green” practices in our business – the paper we use, the ink for our printers, recycling, enviornmentally friendly cleaning products, etc,” says Johnson.
Locally, people can obtain glass straws at Harvest Market, Pacific Glass Works, and Living Light, in Fort Bragg, and the Ukiah Natural Food Co-Op. Johnson says their long range plan is to get 2% of the population using glass straws.
“With the U.S.A. population at about 300 million, this works out to 6 million straws. We certainly have our work cut out for us,” she laughs.
People can help support the planet and Glass Dharma’s mission by purchasing a glass straw for themselves, friends, colleagues and family alike. Glass Dharma also makes custom orders. They can be reached at : www.glassdharma.com or 707-964-9350.