Every day in the United States alone, we use enough plastic straws to circle the Earth’s circumference 2.5 times. Fortunately, we’re finally realizing the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws and are taking swift action for positive change. From eco-friendly individuals to corporations like Starbucks, and Bon Appetit, people are actively taking steps to reduce and eliminate plastic waste by banning plastic straws as the first step.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates that 1,800 businesses, organizations and institutions have already eliminated plastic straws altogether or implemented a policy to provide straws upon request only. Sea World has banned plastic bags and straws from their twelve theme and amusement parks, and Carnival, Cunard, and Royal Caribbean cruise lines have committed to eliminating plastic straws by 2019 and all other plastics by 2020.
Malibu and Manhattan Beach California recently banned plastic straws, stirrers and utensils and Seattle has become the first major city to follow suit. New York and San Francisco are considering similar bans on single-use plastics too. And, the list of cities across the US continues to grow. This is bound to have a positive impact on plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, waterways and oceans, and the environment.
While straw bans in the USA are just getting underway, they’re in full swing around the world. Taiwan has restricted the use of single-use plastic bags, straws, utensils, and cups. New Delhi, India, with a population of more than 20 million people, banned all forms of single-use plastics in 2017.
Straw bans find some people embracing alternative reusable drinking straws like bamboo, glass, and stainless steel straws more than others. Many earth-friendly folks have long chosen to carry reusable straws with them to restaurants to avoid the plastic straw automatically provided drinks. On the other hand, some restaurant owners aren’t happy about having to find alternatives to inexpensive plastic straws. And, suppliers aren’t prepared for the growing demand leaving many out of stock and unable to fill increasing large orders.
While many individuals, restaurants, hotels, schools, and businesses have opted to ban plastic straws, it’s important to remember that people with disabilities rely on straws for their survival. Those with swallowing or oral issues, facial palsy, injuries or disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, the elderly, kids, etc. So, whether you just love using straws or your life depends on them, we’ve put together The Ultimate Buying Guide to Reusable Drinking Straws.
To keep costs down, restaurants are turning to single-use alternatives like paper, PLA Corn, and even pasta straws. Each of these are for cold beverages only and have other drawbacks too. Paper is inexpensive but flimsy and doesn’t hold up in a drink.
Plant-based PLA corn plastics are biodegradable but defeat the purpose by requiring high temperature commercial composting systems. And, while Pasta Straws are 100% biodegradable, they only last about an hour in a cold beverage.
Reusable Straws are the way to go!
We recommend buying enough to always have one handy when you stop at your favorite eatery, coffee stop or juice bar. Now, it’s time to decide just which reusable drinking straw is right for you. Consider what beverages you most often use a straw for, the size (diameter and length) you like, and the material that feels the best on your lips and tongue. We call that “mouth feel”! Here are some options for you to consider…
Bamboo Straws: Sustainable, reusable, eco-friendly, fun and functional, there are a growing number of bamboo straws available. Choose wisely! Organic matters when you’re consuming hot and/or cold liquids. Of course, we’re especially partial to the bambu® brand! We can vouch that they’re made from 100% organic bamboo and are in fact the one and only bamboo straws on the market that are USDA Certified Organic. They even won the “Most Innovative Product” award in 2015!
Our organic bamboo is sourced in China from the largest bamboo forests in the world. Safe for hot or cold drinks, the bambu® set of 6 straws varying in diameter so you can choose the perfect one for a thick smoothie or a glass of lemon water. An all-natural sisal brush is included for easy cleaning. Choose from our 8 ½” straw or our Short Bamboo Straw at 5 ¾” which is great for children or for adults when drinking coffee, tea or a cocktail. Hand wash in warm, soapy water for a nice long lifespan.
Glass Straws: We like that glass straws are more environmentally friendly than plastic, but not that they aren’t biodegradable. Made of pyrex, glass straws are nice and durable and shouldn’t easily crack or chip. They come in a variety of fun colors, tend to be a bit on the expensive side and while they work great for water or a soda, they aren’t large enough in diameter for a thick smoothie. Dishwasher safe.
Stainless Steel Straws: While stainless straws help reduce plastic straw pollution, but we just can’t get around the stiff, cold, hard mouthfeel and the how these can affect the taste of beverages. Dishwasher safe.
When deciding on the best option, you may want to also consider the ‘end of life’ of a product. Can it be recycled or will it easily break down? Is it designed for deconstruction? Glass and paper can be recycled. Bamboo biodegrades easily. Silicon straws or stainless steel straws might have a long life, but they will last forever in the landfill or in the ocean.
If you aren’t yet convinced of the benefits of reusable straws, please watch Open Your Eyes to learn more about plastics and the environment.