Our Founder & Chief Stroodler Maxim Gelmann’s TEDx Talk

Thu, Jul 22, 21

TED Conferences LLC is an American media organisation that posts talks online under the slogan "ideas worth spreading". TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. Today, TED boasts a collection of over 3,000 TED talk videos from politicians to scientists to comedians and actors.

Now we know what a TED talk is, how is TEDx different from TED we hear you ask! According to TED, “TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis, under a free license from TED”. In other words, TED owns and designs the overall structure of the presentation, but the community hosting each TEDx event manages it. This provides a tailored approach to the issues or triumphs of that community and ensures accurate, high-quality material.

So, before we begin to explain what Maxim’s TEDx Talk is all about, we thought it makes sense to first shed some light on him and his background, and of course the birth of Stroodles Pasta Straws. Maxim has a strategy consulting background, and has worked across many different industries from agriculture to cars, fashion, retail and even for a company that makes nappies for the elderly! Most recently, since moving to London 7 years ago, he was heavily involved in the London tech - scene across various businesses. Having left his last startup in Feb 2018, he decided that he was tired of the corporate world, and the final purpose and objective of each company, and the lack thereof a bigger meaning and picture and impact. He was thereby always in some form jealous of his wife, who was always involved in not - for - profit projects with a real purpose and the true meaning of the word impact. He therefore also wanted to do something that would have an impact - as cliche as it sounds!


In February 2018, Maxim decided to get back into consultancy, so that he could also use the time to figure out what he wanted to do next. Doing consultancy work allowed him to have a few days a week to dedicate to him, to really have a think about what he wanted to do and who he wanted to be, and what’s actually important to him. His decision to follow through with the initial idea and actually create a company was a combination of many factors for Maxim, be it his past experiences and career, and just being in the right place, at the right time with the right mindset. And so it was with this open mindset, that when he came across pasta tubes being used for fun by Italians, that it all started to click in his head. Maxim says it was like in one of those sci - fi movies, where puzzle pieces and flashbacks started coming together and it all started making sense. He remembers the simplicity of this idea, and it's apparent ability to solve the huge plastic problem had really struck him.


Seeing how wowed this idea left him and how much additional awareness and thoughts about the plastic problem came with it, he felt that a pasta drinking straw can achieve his goal of trying to get more people into sustainability, but in a fun and uncompromising way. Drinking out of a pasta straw means that one can still go about their normal daily routine, while doing good, and even go get drunk and do good naturally - so no excuses! If it worked on me, why wouldnt it work on others? It seemed like such an easy formula to help solve such a compelling problem.

In Maxim’s TEDx Talk, he shares his experience and learnings on the power of inspiring people all across the world on how easy it is to make small sustainable changes. In his appeal that we need to create a new stereotype of "Making sustainability fun", he talks through his ideas on how we need to "package" up sustainability to make it appealing and actionable for everyone. He therefore presents his theory of the change funnel and super touchpoints and shows a formula on how any idea needs to be uncompromising, fun and add value in order to reach many people. If we manage to reach the masses, we can thereby create a ripple effect and lasting change. As Anne-Marie Bonneau rightly said, to make an impact " we need millions of people doing zero - waste or sustainability or just doing something imperfectly, rather than a handful of people doing it perfectly.



The Importance of Change

The core message of Maxim’s TEDx Talk looks at change made easy. Sustainable change is a trending topic and something most, if not all of the general public have bought into. However, it requires us to make changes subconsciously on how we consume certain products and how these products affect the environment around us.

Maxim explores the psychology of people, and the idea that the main ‘obstacle’ is stereotypes. He highlights that the average ‘Joe Bloggs’ on the street is often exposed to the ‘extremes’ of sustainability, from eco-warriors, to adverts on T.V and the extreme messages they may see on social media. By being exposed to these stereotypes and ‘extremes’ people are put off about living a more ‘sustainable lifestyle’ as they begin to believe that living sustainably requires radical lifestyle changes, which they can’t relate to, and above all, don’t even know where to start.

Another obstacle that Maxim talks about is compromise, and the idea that people think that being sustainable and swapping everyday products for more eco-friendly ones, means ‘the acceptance of standards that are lower than is desirable’. Maxim therefore believes that the key to converting more people to living a more sustainable lifestyle is ‘packaging up’ these changes so that people no longer associate them with compromise. For example, our Pasta Straws are flavourless and last over an hour in cold drinks, so therefore don’t compromise your drinking experience, and also don’t require any behavioural changes. With Stroodles, people can still have fun and get drunk, without feeling guilty, and actually helping to make positive changes to our planet.


In his TEDx Talk Maxim explores the ‘Funnel of Change’ model, which is a model adopted from the Sales Funnel, where ‘buy the product’ is replaced with ‘first imperfect action’. Maxim suggests that for people to make sustainable changes, they need to be moved through the so-called ‘Funnel of Change’, which is a funnel that illustrates the steps it takes for one to make their first ‘imperfect action’. Maxim talks about how every individuals ‘Funnel of Change’ differs, and that there are different stages for different people. For some people, sustainability actions may happen relatively quickly, whereas it might take another person up to 10 ‘touchpoints’ to then make a change. This then brings us on to the next step of his theory, ‘touchpoints’. By touchpoints he means absolutely anything that might make you think about sustainability, from the advert you see on Instagram, the friend you saw using a reusable bottle, to the reusable cutlery you were given at work. All the touchpoints in the funnel will then eventually lead you to making a sustainable change. He also believes ‘super touchpoints’ exist, which are touchpoints that excelerate people through the tunnel.


Maxim states that the end goal is to get people to move through the tunnel, and start making actionable changes as quickly as possible. He talks about change being like a game of snakes and ladders, where we all start at 1 and can go up ladders which are ‘positive touchpoints’, but we can then also reach a ‘snake’, which is being exposed to something too extreme, causing us to go backwards in our tunnel of change and go down with the wrong mindset. The goal of the game, and the ‘Funnel of Change’ is to get to 100, and as quickly as possible- bringing about real and actionable change in our everyday lives.


Change Made Easy


In his TEDx Talk, Maxim highlights that the above three factors are what is key to creating touchpoints. He believes that it’s important to be ‘uncompromising’, and therefore there is no need to accept standards that are lower than is desirable. For example, our Pasta Straws are ‘uncompromising’ because they are flavourless and last over 1 hour in your drink, so therefore don’t have a negative impact on your drinking experience (like paper straws do!).

The next factor Maxim discusses is the importance of being fun and non-preachy. Maxim believes that to make people move quickly through the ‘Funnel of Change’, we need to cut through the doom and gloom of environmentalism, and make sustainability something that is fun, easy, shareable on social media, and above all, something that can put a smile on your face and create happiness. With our fun tone of voice, non-preachy manner, and lots of funny memes (such as a turtle pointing its middle finger at people who use single-use plastic), we believe that we get people to associate sustainability with fun here at Stroodles!

The final component that Maxim talks about is ‘Added Value’, which he describes as ‘the secret sauce’. He mentions that what he has seen with Stroodles, is that when people stroodle a drink for the first time, it not only puts a smile on their face and makes them happy, but it’s a conversation starter and an icebreaker, and people are immediately engaged. Maxim believes that this ‘added value’ allows you to get recognition.

The impact the Stroodle has had on society

Here at Stroodles we understand that too much plastic is, well, not exactly fantastic. In fact, our global consumption of plastic is leading to roughly 320 million tonnes of plastic being produced annually, which shockingly only 9% actually gets recycled. This is leading to way too much plastic leaching into our environment.

Did you know that there is currently around 150 million tonnes of plastic circulating our beautiful oceans?! All of which threatens the existence of marine life, from tiny fish to big mammals and amphibians. Marine wildlife often consume plastic, mistaking it for food, which more often than not sadly causes either severe digestive problems or death. Another big problem with plastic is that it is made from unsustainable materials such as coal and crude oil, meaning that the manufacturing process of plastic itself is terrible for our planet. In fact, the plastic industry is one of the most greenhouse gas intensive industries in the manufacturing sector, and is therefore accelerating global warming!

The Reason Plastic Straws Suck in particular

1. Plastic straws harm marine wildlife, as well as ecosystems
Plastic straws may be small, but when the world uses billions of them a year, they make a significant contribution to plastic pollution in our oceans.The big issue with plastic straws is that they are particularly prone to ending up in our oceans. Plastic straws never fully biodegrade, and so as time goes by they often just break down into smaller pieces of plastic that either float around in our oceans, or remain in landfill. As they break down into microplastics, they release chemicals into the soil, air, and water that are harmful to animals, plants, people, AND our environment.

2. Plastic straws are not biodegradable, and very difficult to recycle
Another big issue with plastic straws is that they are a particularly nasty form of plastic. As we all know, they have a shockingly short lifespan (sometimes even just a few minutes), before they are thrown away, and eventually discarded to landfill. The issue is that plastic straws in landfill sites never actually fully biodegrade. Instead, the straws simply degrade, gradually disintegrating into smaller microplastics (over a period of around 200 years!).

Not only are plastic straws not biodegradable, they are also extremely tricky to recycle. Although plastic straws should technically be recyclable, unfortunately in reality they aren’t. Most plastic straws are simply too lightweight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters, meaning that the majority of straws often get bypassed by the sorting screens and end up getting disposed of, and then eventually ending up in landfill sites or, even worse, our waterways and oceans.

3. Plastic straws expose us to unhealthy toxic chemicals
The chemicals that plastic straws are made from are a big cause for concern, as it’s suspected that one chemical in particular (which the majority of plastic straws are made from), polypropylene, can leach its way into our drinks. Polypropylene is believed to impact estrogen levels in the human body (which is apparently worsened in acidic drinks, UV light, and heat). In other words, next time you’re having a cocktail in the sunshine, perhaps think twice about using a plastic straw, and use a stroodle instead ;). The toxic chemicals that plastic straws contain leach into our food and drink, and have been linked to various health issues, ranging from hormone disruption to cancer. How worrying is this?!

It’s definitely ok to use straws again, but only if they are Stroodles! With Stroodles you can say “Pasta la Vista '' to soggy paper straws and ocean polluting plastic. Our pasta straws are made from only two natural ingredients, durum wheat and water, and are therefore 100% biodegradable (unlike awful plastic straws!) Even if our stroodles did happen to end up in our waterways, they would actually be a delicious snack for marine life! Stroodles are a way to jazz up your drink game, they can be easily cut to size, perfect for every cold beverage. They also last over an hour and are flavourless, so therefore are completely uncompromising!

We know that you all know by now that Stroodles Pasta Straws make drinking SO much more fun, but did you know that you can also play games with them? Stroodles Pasta Straws are perfect for drinks but they’re also so much more, they can become a sword, a painting tool or the base of a sculpture. Click here to see our list of games and activities!

Not only has our Stroodles Movement allowed people to see how small change is possible, and how much difference it can make, we are also working with schools, to get younger generations on board with our movement, and to educate them on the importance of sustainability. Our aim is to make sustainability a part of the UK school curriculum, using Stroodles and Mr. Stroodles as a springboard for education on fun and sustainable changes!

Maxim’s key goal with his TEDx Talk is to raise awareness of the fact that to make an impact " we need millions of people doing zero - waste or sustainability or just doing something imperfectly, rather than a handful of people doing it perfectly. Maxim’s main aim with Stroodles is to reach the masses, because he can thereby create a ripple effect, and lasting change.

Stroodles is more than a company, we are a movement dedicated to making real change by impacting the planet in positive, eco-kind ways. We have always taken our commitment to creating solutions to plastic pollution very seriously. As our Stroodles Movement grows, so too does our desire to bring about real and actionable change.

Ever since we started off with our signature pasta straw we knew this was just the beginning of our journey. We are so proud to say that we have created a NEW range of products to help you make even more eco-conscious choices. Our new eco-tableware range is made up of exciting products from spoons made out of biscuit, to plates made out of wheat bran! All of these new Stroodles items are edible, entirely vegan, durable, and of course 100% biodegradable! Similar to our pasta straws, by stroodling your food, you can make positive changes, the easy way!

At Stroodles, we’re a part of a larger global effort to change the way we consume and use products, one Stroodle Straw, cup, plate and bowl at a time.

If you are interested in Stroodles and want to learn more about our products then why not get in touch with us: Maxim@Stroodles.co.uk

Explore our store and range of products today: Click here to shop Stroodles

Kiki Barrow

Kiki Barrow

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