Quantcast
Popular
Aardvark

5 Eco-Friendly Drinking Straw Alternatives So You Can Skip Plastic

Last week, New York City lawmakers introduced a bill banning plastic straws in all bars and restaurants in the Big Apple, joining the growing worldwide war against this environmental scourge.

"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.

2. Bamboo

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.

3. Metal

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.

4. Glass

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.

5. Silicone

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."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Global warming in Iceland. Getty Images

Arctic Warming Amplifies Extreme Weather Events Globally: Wildfires, Flooding Likely to Be More Severe

Warming in the Arctic is causing the jet stream, a belt of air held "up" around the Arctic by the temperature difference between the Arctic and warmer climates, to weaken and slow.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
DWalker44 / Getty Images

Tons of Plastic Trash Enter the Great Lakes Every Year – Where Does It Go?

By Matthew J. Hoffman

Awareness is rising worldwide about the scourge of ocean plastic pollution, from Earth Day 2018 events to the cover of National Geographic magazine. But few people realize that similar concentrations of plastic pollution are accumulating in lakes and rivers. One recent study found microplastic particles—fragments measuring less then five millimeters—in globally sourced tap water and beer brewed with water from the Great Lakes.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
Gorancakmazovic / Getty Images

Blotting Out the Sun to Save the Earth? Seriously?

By Jeff Turrentine

Science fiction doesn't always stay fictional. Space exploration, robots and self-driving cars are just a few of the modern-day wonders that once existed only as plot devices or fantastical theories. Our capacity for turning science-fictional notions into the stuff of everyday life has grown with each new generation of scientists and microchips, such that more and more ideas previously deemed too far "out there" are now actually here, or at least technologically plausible.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Flames of the Simi Valley fire ravage a Southern California mountain side on Oct. 29, 2012. U.S. Air Force / Senior Master Sgt. Dennis W. Goff

'Hothouse Earth' Co-Author Says 'People Will Look Back on 2018 as the Year When Climate Reality Hit'

By Jessica Corbett

Amid a flurry of "breathless headlines" about warnings in a new study that outlines a possible "Hothouse Earth" scenario, one co-author optimistically expressed his belief that "people will look back on 2018 as the year when climate reality hit."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Kodachrome25 / Getty Images

Roof-to-Garden: How to Irrigate with Rainwater

By Brian Barth

The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day, a third for irrigation and other outdoor uses. Collecting the water flowing down your downspouts in rainstorms so you can use it to irrigate in dry periods is often touted as a simple way to cut back. But setting up a functional rainwater irrigation system—beyond the ubiquitous 55-gallon barrels under the downspout, which won't irrigate much more than a flower bed or two—is a fairly complicated DIY project.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
A family wears face masks as they walk through the smoke filled streets after the Thomas wildfire swept through Ventura, California on Dec. 6, 2017. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

How to Protect Your Children From Wildfire Smoke

By Cecilia Sierra-Heredia

We're very careful about what our kids eat, but what about the air they breathe?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Hero Images / Getty Images

Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental and emotional health. Now, a new global study has found that children in 27 developing nations tend to have more diverse diets and better nutrition when they live near forests.

The paper, published Wednesday in Science Advances, provides evidence that forest conservation can be an important tool in promoting better nutrition in developing countries, rather than clear-cutting forests for more farmland.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Navy torpedo bomber spraying DDT just above the trees in Goldendale, WA in 1962. USDA Forest Service

Maternal DDT Exposure Linked to Increased Autism Risk

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Thursday found that mothers exposed to the banned pesticide DDT were nearly one-third more likely to have children who developed autism, Environmental Health News reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!