By Daysi Calavia-Robertson
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As the push to get rid of plastic straws continues to grow, one Long Island entrepreneur is slurping up profits with the two-piece adjustable-length reusable straw she created back in 2013.
When Huntington entrepreneur Cindy Schiff first told people about her product, they laughed.
Back in 2012 when she would describe the reusable silicone drinking straw she had designed and patented, people “would just look at me like I had lost my mind,” she said.
Fast-forward to 2018. Now it’s Schiff who’s having the proverbial last laugh.
Sales of the colorful straws, sold online through her company GreenPaxx, have increased steadily since year one, but have tripled in the last 12 months, she said.
In 2013 GreenPaxx sold 10,000 boxes of four straws each, at $10.95 a pop. Last year Schiff sold more than 70,000 boxes, including some to retail accounts.
She attributes the growth to increasing awareness of the environmental consequences of single-use plastics, from grocery bags to straws. “As the anti-plastic straw movement has grown, it’s been harder and harder for me to keep up with the demand,” Schiff said.
Forty-four restaurants in Suffolk and seven in Nassau agreed this summer to stop providing plastic straws to customers as part of an environmental drive backed by Suffolk Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).
Municipalities including Malibu, California, Miami Beach, Florida, and Portland, Oregon, have gone beyond voluntary bans and have partly or fully outlawed plastic stirrers, straws and other items too small to be recycled properly.
Schiff, 44, a former nurse and current stay-at-home mother of four, said she developed her two-piece adjustable-length silicone straw after noticing how many plastic straws her smoothie-loving children used on a daily basis.
Schiff, who said she’s a runner and has always been health-conscious, was concerned about her children, Baylen, 14, Adelina, 13, Travis, 11, and Lulu, 10, getting enough nutrients in their diets, so she started making fruit and vegetable smoothies for them years ago. She quickly realized the family was going through “an unhealthy amount” of plastic straws.