Good Vibes Only - An Interview with Stroodles Straws Founder, Maxim Gelmann
This week, we caught up with Maxim Gelmann, the founder of Stroodles, a company that makes drinking straws out of pasta.
The eco tableware sector is pretty limited. Either you get paper straws which get wet and soggy in minutes, wooden spoons that splinter in your mouth, or paper plates that fly away from the picnic area as soon as there is a gentle breeze. Maxim is on a mission to change that. After watching Italians use tubular pasta for fun, he immediately thought that these would make a perfect solution to plastic waste. He was catapulted into starting the company when returning from a Burning Man festival, after being moved by the festival’s 10 Principles, including communal effort, civic responsibility and leaving no trace.
For Maxim, climate change has created a doom and gloom scenario, whereby people are impressed by the scope of the problem but don’t have a means to start acting on it. People switch off at the first possible moment and return to their patterns that are least compromising to them. Negative stereotypes of a sustainable lifestyle - mainly that it costs a lot, you compromise on quality, and makes you change your lifestyle, leads people to think that it isn’t fun. Maxim wants to change that.
“We are trying to offer actionable solutions, and to show that sustainability can be fun” he says. In fact, one has but to go onto the Stroodles Instagram page to be hit by a wall of colour, memes and climate change related jokes.
“We need millions of people doing sustainability imperfectly rather than thousands doing perfectly”, he says. While many other founders of sustainable companies have forever been “eco warriors”, Maxim doesn’t brand himself in that way. He positions himself alongside the average guy, who “just wants to do something, but it can’t be crazy or compromise my life”. He believes that through small actions, it is possible to create long term, meaningful change.
Maxim isn’t content with making just pasta straws though. Behind the scenes, they are expanding and developing new eco tableware. In particular, they are working on a range of edible spoons, made out of biscuits, including a gluten free version, and edible plates and bowls made from wheat bran. Most impressively they have developed an edible cup, which can hold hot liquid for up to 40 minutes. For Maxim, the aim is to produce as a deep and complete a range of eco tableware as possible.
In the meantime, Stroodles is also involved in charity work and partnerships. They are currently in the midst of launching a campaign for the G7 Summit with Clean Ocean Sailing, a charity based out of Cornwall that refurbishes old sailboats and cleans the ocean in hard to reach areas.
Overall, Maxim believes that taking an educational stance with regards to climate change, and giving it a fun touch is a better way to win over and change people’s habits instead of the dour and stark warnings that are often given. We loved his message and thought it was such an insightful way to think about sustainability. By changing the emotions associated with climate change from fear and being overwhelmed to having a more lighthearted and proactive view, more of us are able to take small steps to be imperfectly sustainable together.