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Return home to Vietnam changed everything for EQUO founder Marina Tran-Vu.

In her years of traveling the world while working in brand management for Unilever, LG, and Bacardi, Marina witnessed firsthand the impacts of plastic waste and pollution in developing and developed nations alike. She realized her brand-building expertise could be put to better use in fixing what she perceived to be the greatest flaw of the booming market of eco-products: its tone.

Marina was turned off by the way many sustainability brands relied on fear and guilt to motivate their customers to care about the environment. She knew there was a better, more approachable way to get people excited about buying sustainable goods.

So, she moved back to her native Vietnam to launch and develop EQUO’s line of alternative straws using raw, natural ingredients sourced from local farming communities, as a way to support regional economic growth. The materials for each straw are sourced from a different city or province of Vietnam: coconut from Ben Tre. Rice from Dong Thap. Grass from Long An, Sugarcane from Taiwan.

And true to her mission, EQUO’s approach—in everything from its branding to packaging to mission— centers around a delicate balance of playfulness and hope.