Do Your Bit: Choose from the Many Alternatives to the Plastic Strawby Yash Saboo August 8 2018, 8:49 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 37 secs
A movement to ban disposable plastic straws is sweeping the world after gaining traction in cities and countries across the world, including India – where the country announced a nationwide plastic ban. The movement also found widespread attention after Starbucks announced it would phase out disposable straws by 2020.
Aided by a widespread desire for meaningful environmental change and a viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose, plastic straw bans have been celebrated by individuals, companies and legislators as a positive and necessary move towards widespread environmental change.
Plastic straws are something that is widely used in our everyday lives, so finding the next best alternative is a must. While stainless-steel straws are the most ubiquitous alternative to the plastic straw, they’re far from perfect. Metal transfers heat, so sipping scalding coffee could mean scalding lips. They’re also strong and hard, which scares away a lot of people who are worried about chipping their teeth and who have the habit of anxiously chewing their straws.
Silicone is another option; these straws are obviously softer than steel and come in a rainbow of colours, which might be a plus for kids (especially if you need to sort out whose drink is who’s at a glance). Reusable straws made of silicone are also easier to fold or squish into a small space or cut to size if you need a short straw. But you’ll have to be vigilant about keeping them clean and drying before putting them away, as some users report funny odours or even mould (yikes!). Or, split the difference with a hybrid like these Klean Kanteen straws that are mostly metal but come with soft silicone tips.
For a pretty straw to keep at home and use over and over again, there are glass straws. Of course glass won’t work well for traveling, but they’re elegant and colourful options and are perfect for a dinner or cocktail party. These straws come with bends or stick straight and in a variety of widths, so they’ll work for anything from smoothies to boba tea.
Organic bamboo straws are often the cheapest option, so even though they’re meant to last a really long time, you also don’t have to feel bad about losing them or throwing them away. Lauren Singer, environmental activist and CEO of the Package Free Shop says that because these are literally sticks, when you’re done with them, all you have to do is stick them in the woods and walk away. That’s how renewable they are. While these have a more natural feel, they also come in wider versions for smoothies and thicker drinks.
Lastly, there are paper straws. Paper straws don’t really solve the waste issue because you’re still only using them once, but at least they’re not plastic. These also start disintegrating after a while, but if you just want a bunch of straws around, paper straws are the best option.