10 Country: The Straw Man - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: The Straw Man

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April 22, 2003

Tifton-- Many of us have seen local textile mills closed, with production transferred to Mexico or the Far East, but one man decided not to go with the industry, He uses his knowledge of textile manufacturing to compete with Mother Nature.

Yard work certainly picks up when spring comes, with thousands of bales of pine straw used to spruce up yards. But, Mother Nature's straw doesn't last too long. "In a commercial setting, we will change it out three times a year," says Moe Clements, professional landscaper.

What if all that changed, and we had straw that lasted for years instead of months? That has started happening, adapting textile-manufacturing techniques to making, of all things, pine straw.

"Basically, it is a textile process," said David Carvin, straw developer. Where used plastic, such as grocery bags, now in pellet form gets a second chance. "We can take something that's going into the landfill and turn it in something that will really look good in the garden."

The idea sounds simple. Getting its color right became a major challenge. "Making it look natural, you got to get the right color. It can't look plastic," Carvin said.

Mile after mile of natural looking plastic straw comes out ready for the great outdoors in pieces about eight inches long, and it costs about four times what pine straw does. But, he says will payback the investment in 18-to-24-months. The remaining two years are essentially free.

Future plans call for a variety of pine straws. They plan on improving their straw by putting scents right in the groove. Scents that will scare away animals deer, dogs, even snakes. "You can turn old things into new things, and it gets the value back into it," he said.

Radically new things, in this case. Sterile pine straw without the weeds and bugs that normally come with the naturally grown type. And, straw that can last, in theory, forever. When it's finished its life, they can melt it down.

A major home improvement chain will test market the new straw to see if it appeals to people.

posted at 3:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com