Scary story time: Imagine, you’re swimming through the depths of the ocean. Beautiful, still, and calm the ocean looks like it doesn’t have a care in the world, and as a result, neither do you. You swim deeper and deeper until you finally reach a majestic coral reef. Then, out of the ocean floor comes a sea turtle aged older than you. As it passes you, you notice the massive sea turtle munching on something… and with a closer look you can see it’s a plastic straw. In your horror, you turn around to see thousands upon thousands of plastic pieces floating around the endless ocean, blending in with the wildlife and ecosystem.
Did you find this story scary? Yeah, us too! But you can be a part of the solution to ocean pollution – and help change our ocean ecosystems for the better. Read on to learn why reusable straws are an incredible option for anyone looking for an easy and safe solution to single-use plastics!
What You’ll Learn:
- What material of reusable straw best fits your lifestyle and needs
- Why switching to reusable straws is so critical for our planet
Which reusable straw is best for you?
Single-use plastic straws–they’re used for 30 minutes, but stick around for over half a century in our landfills and waterways. They can’t be recycled, they won’t biodegrade, and often end up polluting ocean habitats and damaging the environment! So why do millions of people each day choose to keep sucking on straws?
The truth is: straws can have some serious perks–from protecting your teeth from the sugars in drinks, to sippin’ drinks easily on the go, and they’re a great option for children or those with disabilities. But there is a better way than single-use! Reusable straws are an amazing way to reduce your impact on the millions of plastic straws that go into our landfills each week, while still enjoying all of the perks you love.
Over the last few months, fast-food restaurants and even entire cities have pledged to ban plastic straws, moving towards compostable alternatives or even modifying their products to not require straws (we see you Starbucks!) But, if you’re anything like us, ditching straws altogether just doesn’t work–especially when you’re on-the-go.
That’s why we love reusable stainless steel straws as one alternative, because they’re made from such a durable material that they can really go anywhere and everywhere with you without breaking–just toss it in your bag worry-free. Plus, stainless steel as a material is naturally non-toxic, rust-proof, and dishwasher safe, so cleaning and maintaining your straws is extremely easy.
Because stainless steel is, well, metal, we recommend that you only use this type of reusable straw on cold or room temperature drinks–not hot coffee or anything that could heat up the straw (ouch!) Another good thing to note about 100% stainless steel straws is that they’re not ideal for young children, or those with disabilities, as the mouthpiece is not as forgiving.
Pros: extremely durable, easy to clean, naturally rust-proof & non-toxic, lasts for years, comes in short and long lengths, recyclable, comes in bulk, looks great alongside classic silverware!
Cons: not suitable for hot drinks, or young children & those with disabilities!
There’s a lotta’ types of reusable straws.. but don’t get it bamboozled… bamboo straws are an amazing alternative as well! Usually known for being the fastest growing plant on the planet, bamboo is also naturally mold-resistant, anti-bacterial, and is as durable as steel. They will last for years with proper care, but when your bamboo straws do finally reach the end of their life, they can be commercially composted–so they don’t end up in the landfill.
In terms of usage, bamboo straws are easily cleaned with soapy water and a straw cleaning brush, and are naturally BPA-free, made without animal byproducts, and grown from bamboo that use pesticides or fertilizers. And although bamboo is a strong wood, it’s gentle and giving enough to be a great option for everyone–children, those with disabilities, you name it.
Pros: compostable & biodegradable after years of use, gentle enough for kids, good for hot and cold drinks, comes in short and long lengths, naturally mold-resistant & anti-bacterial, comes from renewable materials!
Cons: slightly ‘wooden’ mouthfeel, should not be left soaking in drinks for 12+ hours, most straw sets will have slightly different diameters because they come from whole stalks of bamboo, harder to clean!
Sip with class, thanks to glass! Reusable glass straws are one of the prettiest alternatives to single-use plastic straws, and there’s so many unique types! From short (8”) to long (10”), to smoothie width and regular width, bent and straight, and a variety of colors, there’s no shortage of ways to rock a glass straw.
Did you know that glass is 100% recyclable, and can be recycled endlessly without losing quality or purity? This makes it an extremely sustainable alternative to single-use straws–which can’t be recycled even once. Plus, glass won’t impart flavors based on what liquids it has come in contact with, so you can go from sipping a cup of iced coffee to a glass of wine without having to deep clean the straw.
Cons: break or shatter slightly easier than other options!
While some of the other reusable straws might have bent tips, they don’t truly hit the mark for a flexible “bendy” straw that mimics the single-use plastic alternative. And for straw-chewers and little ones everywhere that was a huge issue.
That’s where silicone comes in–a plastic-free, non-toxic material that bends easily, but doesn’t break. Silicone has a high heat capacity, which means that it doesn’t change temperature easily, so it can go in your piping hot coffee, or in a cup of ice cold water. For the little ones in your life, the silicone straws can be easily cut down with a pair of scissors to create different lengths–but don’t worry, they won’t easily break or rip on their own!
Pros: flexible with a wide bent tip for easy sipping, doesn’t change temperature & can be used with hot and cold drinks, dishwasher safe, can be cut down to create “mini” straws, great for straw-chewers and won’t break!
Cons: harder to recycle at the end of life, and entire straw is flimsier than rigid stainless steel or glass.
You deserve the best of both worlds: a bendy straw tip and a durable straw base. This straw does just that thanks to its flexible silicone tip attached to a high-quality steel base. When you want a pop of fun color, just keep the silicone mouthpiece on, or simply pop it off for a classic stainless steel look.
Pros: recyclable at the end of its life, nearly unbreakable, flexible bendy-straw tip, good for kids, straw-chewers, and those with disabilities, pairs with Klean Kanteen brand pints & tumblers, and made from non-toxic materials!
Cons: preferred hand-wash, and stainless steel cannot be used with hot drinks!
Alright, alright…. This technically isn’t a reusable straw, but it is another great alternative to single-use plastic straws. We totally understand that single-use straws are sometimes unavoidable, especially at large events like weddings, bars, festivals, you name it. By switching to single-use compostable paper over plastic, you can divert a huge amount of waste headed to the landfill, while still providing the single-use straws your event needed.
Most paper straws, like these, can compost in roughly 6 months to a year (compared to the 500 years plastic takes), and are made with chemical-free, food-grade inks, so they contain none of the yucky toxins that plastic straws do. Plus, they come in a variety of fun colors, making them the perfect partner for your sustainable party!
Pros: compostable & biodegradable, unique and memorable experience, fine for straw-chewers, kids, and those with disabilities!
Cons: not suitable for hot drinks, not reusable, each straw can only be used for a short period of time!
It’s time to #SuckResponsibly with FinalStraw–the world’s first collapsible, reusable straw that raised over $1.8 million on Kickstarter! This badass little straw is a convenient, durable alternative to the single-use plastic straw, using long-lasting materials like stainless steel and food-grade silicone… not wasteful plastic. Their patented self-assembling foldable design lets you tuck the straw into its recycled plastic carrying case with ease, and even comes with a telescoping straw cleaning brush for when it’s time to clean. Plus, the carrying case features a keychain clip, so you never have to worry about leaving your straw at home again. Plus, the silicone tip is great for straw biters!
Pros: comes with travel-friendly carrying case, collapsible, comes with straw brush, fine for straw-chewers and kids, can be used with hot and cold drinks, durable and long-lasting!
Cons: not great for thick drinks like smoothies, must be commercially recycled and taken apart at the end of its life.
Now that you have the tools you need to decide what straw is right for you, it’s time for the most important part: using it! When you go to restaurants, coffee shops, or businesses, make sure you proudly say “No straw, please! I have my own!” When you bring your own straw, others will notice, and hopefully spur a change in their own life towards less single-use items. Don’t think you can switch to reusable? It’s easier than you think! All you need is your go-to straw, a carrying case, and of course a straw brush, and you’re ready to start changing the world.
Comment your favorite reusable straw below!