Are reusable straws better than plastic? We have the answer
Friday, July 6, 2018, 5:44 PM -
The straw debate is quite the hot topic right now. Several major restaurant chains have vowed to pull plastic straws from their stores, and politicians and activists alike are asking for change in regards to plastic waste.
You may be wondering: "What's so bad about plastic straws? They're so small, they must be so insignificant in the grand scheme of things."
Canadians throw away an estimated 50 million plastic straws per day. According to The Last Plastic Straw, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging people to reduce their plastoc straw consumption, Americans throw away enough straws to wrap around the Earth's circumfrence two and a half times per day. By 2050, it's estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
Image: The Last Plastic Straw
Something's gotta give
Reusable straws are the perfect first step to reducing the amount of plastic you throw away each day. Don't want to purchase a reusable straw right now? That's okay. Maybe reading this article will change your mind. In the meantime, here are some other small ways you can help reduce your plastic waste:
- Ask for no straw when you're at restaurants, or ask for your take-out drinks with a lid you can drink from instead of getting a straw!
- Bring reusable bags with you when you do groceries, and avoid buying products that come in excessive plastic packaging.
- Find out which types of plastics your municipality does not recycle and try to avoid those.
(For more tips, read this: How to reduce your plastic waste)
Our glass straws came from a Vancouver-based company called Glass Sipper. Founder and glass artist extraordinaire Aimee Promislow started creating the straws because her youngest child refused to drink anything unless he was using a plastic straw. Promislow was searching online for something to hold the copious amounts of plastic straws around her house when she stumbled upon an image of a glass straw. Being a glass artist by trade, Promislow started creating her own glass straws with an adorable twist.
Each straw is handmade with a design of your choice - or, if you're not into cute designs, you can purchase plain glass straws. Whatever your straw preference, you can purchase glass straws here!
- Adorable design or the option to buy straws with no design, & bent or straight varieties
- They make glass straws for BUBBLE TEA!
- Lifetime warranty: if your straw breaks, contact Glass Sipper for a new one, no questions asked
- Dishwasher safe, able to use in hot or cold beverages
- Comes with a cleaning brush
Suzanne felt the straw was a little too thick; she prefers smaller width straws
Some people are afraid of the straw breaking if it’s dropped. Clumsy people might want to look at different options.
These are arguably the coolest straws we were able to try. People often associate bamboo with furniture, instruments, and panda bears - not straws!
Dragonfly Bamboo works with groups internationally to produce quality bamboo products for distribution, including these super cool straws. Some of the people who tried them remarked that they felt "tropical", and would be great for themed parties or events. If you're into bamboo, you can buy straws and other cool bamboo products here!
- Great for themed events
- Reusable and easy to wash (if you already have a cleaning brush)
- Great for tall take-out drinks (large iced cappuchino, here I come!)
- No strong taste alteration
A few people who tried these straws said they had a "bit of a woody taste", but others didn't taste anything at all. This probably depends on the person and the beverage.
A little long and awkward for some beverages
STAINLESS STEEL STRAWS
Stainless steel straws are perhaps the most popular variation of reusable straws currently on the market. They are sturdy, dishwasher safe, and easy to clean. Our stainless steel straws came from The Handy House, which sells a variety of kitchen and household accessories. You can find stainless steel straws (or "metal straws", which is less of a mouthful to say) in bent or straight varieties, and in different lengths as well. The ones we tried were the perfect size for any medium sized take-out beverage.
The Handy House has been helling these straws since before they were cool, so they've got plenty of stock on hand. You can buy stainless steel straws and other kitchen accessories here!
- Dishwasher safe, good for cold liquids
- Bent or straight varieties
- Comes with a cleaning brush
- Makes cold beverages taste even colder
Dishwasher doesn’t clean the inside extremely well due to the small diameter
Not for use with hot liquids
(RELATED: Canada BANS microbeads)
While they may not be practical for every day use, paper straws are perfect for parties, weddings, baby showers... any event with a lot of guests that is likely to generate plenty of waste. The paper straws we tried came from an Alberta company called Greenmunch. They specialize in eco-friendly products for entertainment purposes, fast food restaurants, and personal use. They have paper straws in a variety of sizes and patterns for any event you can imagine. You can buy paper straws and other eco-friendly houseware products here!
I brought a paper straw with me to a restaurant recently and orered a cocktail, which made the straw fall apart more quickly than it had in any other non-alcoholic drink (though it still lasted until I was finished the drink!) In hot beverages, they fall apart almost instantly. Cold beverages that are non-alcoholic get along best with paper straws.
- Variety of different lengths and designs to suit your party needs
- Recyclable, and some options are compostable!
- Surprisingly durable - if left to dry between drinks, they can be reused multiple times!
- Not good for thicker liquids like smoothies, slushies, etc. The straws tend to collapse when sucking with too much force (Greenmunch also sells paper straws specifically for milkshakes, however, which may work better!)
- They do get soggy the longer they sit in a drink, and alcoholic beverages make them fall apart faster
- Not really considered reusable
In conclusion, it's a small hassle to remember to bring a reusable straw with you when you head out into the world, but it's worth it! It's a small thing you can do every day to help reduce your impact on the environment. And hey, some people say that reusable straws are the gateway to replacing all of your disposable household items with reusable ones! (Okay, it's just me who says that...)
Other notable mentions that we weren't able to try are the Lolistraw, an EDIBLE straw made out of seaweed, and the Final Straw, a collabsible straw that clips onto your keyring so you never forget it.
Psst... Wanna win some straws?
We know you do.
Comment down below why YOU want to win 4 new stainless steel straws and 4 new bamboo straws (make sure you have an account on TheWeatherNetwork.com so we can contact you if you win!) The winner will be contacted on July 20th.