The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
5 Eco-Friendly Drinking Straw Alternatives So You Can Skip Plastic
"There are 500 million straws being used everyday in the U.S.," Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., the bill's lead sponsor, told NY1 on Thursday. "That's enough to fill Yankee Stadium five times over."
The 8 million tons of plastic garbage that flows into our oceans every year can easily harm or entangle marine life, which is why it's important for us to prevent further damage. As Espinal tweeted, "It's time for us as consumers to protect our planet by weaning off our dependence on single use plastic."
The councilman is right. Skipping the straw, or opting for one of these sustainable options below, is a great way to start.
1. Compostable Straws
Marvin Stone invented the original paper straw in 1888. His invention was the go-to choice until plastic varieties became the standard after the 1960s. But there are still many paper varieties on the market today, including Aardvark, which sells durable, compostable paper tubes based on Stone's original patent. Last September, Aardvark teamed up with ocean advocacy group Lonely Whale Foundation for Strawless in Seattle, the first-ever citywide takeover to eliminate plastic straws.
Compostable straws work well if you like the convenience of something disposable or plan to serve drinks at a party or gathering. Other choices include straws made from wheat stems (yes a straw straw) or corn bioplastic (although this material is best composted in a commercial composting facility). One restaurant in Bristol, England even pairs drinks with Bucatini pasta, a spaghetti-like noodle with a hole running through the middle.
Reusable straws are ideal for sipping beverages at home or when you're on the go. One of the best options is bamboo, as these all-natural straws are usually made without pesticides, chemicals or dyes. Bamboo is also a versatile and rapidly renewable crop. Since it's a natural material, bamboo straws are not dishwasher-safe and must be hand-washed. You also want the straw to be bone dry after cleaning and stored in a well-ventilated place to prevent mold. Check out StrawFree, which even sells an extra-wide, boba-friendly straw so you'll be able to sip bubble tea sans plastic.
Unlike bamboo, which might wear and tear over time, metal straws are made to last. I own dishwasher-safe, stainless steel straws from Bunkoza, which comes with a handy pouch and a natural wool cleaner. I love them because they keep my drinks cool, although they did clink against my teeth when I wasn't used to them at first. If you don't like the idea of toting around a metal tube, the Santa Fe-based team at FinalStraw have also invented the world's first collapsible stainless steel straw that you can conveniently attach to your keychain.
Another eco-friendly, long-lasting option is glass. Although these can break or shatter if you are not careful, the advantage is you can see through them, so you can make sure they are squeaky clean. Another cool thing about glass straws is that they come in all kinds of colors and whimsical designs. Strawsome has advice on the perfect glass straw for you.
Unlike metal or glass, soft and bendy silicone straws don't clink your teeth, making them ideal for kids and straw-biters. Softy Straws are made from food grade, BPA-free silicone and can handle extreme temperatures, so they work with hot drinks and can withstand the dishwasher.
*Note: The 500 million straws a day statistic stated in this article comes from the nonprofit Eco-Cycle. The statistic has been widely used in other media outlets including The New York Times, Reuters, CNN, as well as by the National Park Service. The statistic has received criticism, and in July 2018, the New York Times published a story about the debate, stating that "market research firms put the figure between 170 million and 390 million per day."
- First 'Plastic Free' Label Debuts to Help Shoppers Cut Waste ›
- Vancouver Bans Plastic Straws, Foam Cups and Containers ›
- Michigan Native Develops Visionary Solution for Flint's Plastic Bottle ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Elizabeth Pratt
- Hormel, Kellogg's, and Kroger are among the large companies now planning to offer "fake meat" products at grocery stores.
- Experts say the trend toward plant-based meats coincides with consumers' desires to eat less meat.
- However, experts urge consumers to closely check package labels as a product isn't necessarily healthy just because it's described as plant-based.
In grocery stores and fast-food outlets around the U.S., a revolution is taking place.
Many of us think of the Amazon as an untouched wilderness, but people have been thriving in these diverse environments for millennia. Due to this long history, the knowledge that Indigenous and forest communities pass between generations about plants, animals and forest ecology is incredibly rich and detailed and easily dwarfs that of any expert.
By Wesley Rahn
Plastic byproducts were found in 97 percent of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.
Medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS
Hot yoga has become a popular exercise in recent years. It offers many of the same benefits as traditional yoga, such as stress reduction, improved strength, and flexibility.
The Trump administration has initialized the final steps to open up nearly 1.6 million acres of the protected Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to allow oil and gas drilling.