BY CLAIRE COATES
Why plastic straws suckEach year Europe gets through a ridiculous 25.3 billion plastic straws, Australia 3.5 billion and America 140 billion1. To put that into perspective, a plastic straw in landfill when Queen Victoria was born would only now be fully decomposed.
And once again it's our oceans that have drawn the short straw, with these plastic nemeses being the 7th most collected item in beach clean ups, meaning that by 2050 our oceans could even be home to more plastic than fish.
So, I guess we should just apologise to planet earth, the 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals who die each year from ingesting plastic in our oceans? Right?
Wrong! You can have a positive impact and change those numbers.
Don’t worry - you don’t have to say goodbye to those Instagram-worthy straw pics, you just need to ditch the plastic variety. There are four main options here: paper, silicon, bamboo and metal, and it just depends on what kind of person you are!
What’s the alternative?
If you’re always hosting lots of guests, paper straws are a great choice. They’re biodegradable and you can easily buy them in packs to pass round. But at the end of the day they are still a single use item, so for your personal beverage needs I’d look elsewhere.
When you live for hot drinks as much as I do, it's a no brainer. The silicon straw won’t scold you or leach chemicals. Their chewy nature also makes them great for those kids (or even adults!) who are likely to try and have a bite. But if you’re all about the looks this one isn’t going to deliver I’m afraid. Their chunky, childish style lacks the sophistication you want from your coffee break. Worst of all, someone might even mistake it for plastic!
Cut from unprocessed bamboo stalks, the most authentic straw has to be a bamboo one. This natural element leaves the size a bit unpredictable though and you might struggle with smoothies or bubble tea. It’s completely biodegradable and compostable though, so why not cut the effort of cleaning it by popping it in your garden waste? Unfortunately, even if you do want to love the same straw time and time again, bamboo straws only last for about 10-20 uses before they develop splinters, so it won’t be that long before you have to say goodbye anyway.
The real star of the show then has to be the reusable metal straw, our favourite being the two members of our Better Than range. By not constantly topping up your paper or bamboo straw supply you‘ll really save yourself some money. And what’s more these babies are seriously classy. The Better Than straws come bent or straight, or in a travel pack with a cleaning brush in an adorable hemp bag that’s always ready for your next adventure. You can even buy them in a pack of 25 to get your office or café buzzing.
You can use them in just the same ways as a plastic straw, but the guilt free reusable version means you can also use it when you wouldn’t have before.
How do I use a reusable straw?
- Using a straw prevents teeth staining when drinking teas and coffees, so that you can keep your shiny white smile all day long.
- Don’t waste time reapplying lipstick - use a straw!
- For the chaotic morning routine or when you’re just feeling a little lazy, grab your straw and drink that smoothie straight out of the blender.
- Who said straws were just for drinking? They’re super handy to hull strawberries for a snack or to pop into your next smoothie.
How do I look after my reusable straw?
To give your straw a long and happy life, it’s important you look after it.
It’s super easy to keep your straw in tip top condition. It’s best to rinse your straw straight after use to stop it getting clogged up, or just drink some plain water through it if there’s no taps easily available. Once you’re at home, grab your straw cleaner brush with a bit of washing up liquid on it and run it through the straw a couple times before rinsing thoroughly. Don’t worry if you don’t have a brush though, pipe cleaners can work just as well. For wider straws just twist a couple of pipe cleaners together to make sure it’s cleaning the inside properly.
Don’t forget to wash your travel bag too! Our hemp bags are happily machine washable on your delicate cycle or you can hand wash if you prefer.
Which reusable straw should I buy?
At the end of the day it’s whatever suits you and your lifestyle, but there are a few things to consider in the bendy vs straight dilemma.
Straight straws can make it more likely that kids will accidentally tip over their drink, especially when drinking out of a taller glass. They tend to find bent are just a bit more fun anyway. Bent straws do tend to be a bit shorter however, so you might miss out on that precious last drop of your liquid refreshment. Just make sure any child using a metal straw does so with adult supervision, or alternatively, opt for the safer, softer silicon variety.
For chunky smoothie guzzlers, it’s got to be straight straws as gunk can get stuck in the bend of bent ones. While this shouldn’t be a problem with our included cleaning brushes, it’s something to bear in mind.
If the decision is all too much it’s probably worth buying one of each - that cuts down how often you need to clean them too!
Where can I buy a reusable straw?
Luckily for you, right here!
Made from high quality stainless steel we recommend the metal straws in our Better Than range. Available with carry case or as pack of 25, we’ve got you covered whatever you need.
Get your hands on them here and get sipping:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As part of the generation that will be most affected by climate change, Claire Coates is passionate about protecting our planet and campaigning for a sustainable way of life. Known by her friends as an eco-warrior, Claire runs a clothes swap scheme at her Sixth Form to recycle and reuse unwanted outfits. In her spare time she enjoys running her own radio show and playing for her local hockey team.