Zero Waste 101: Ditch Plastic Straws, Use Reusable Straws

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Zero Waste 101: Ditch Plastic Straws, Use Reusable Straws

Recently, I have been seeing lots of food establishments, cities and consumers who are joining the “ditch the plastic straw” movement and there is a huge reason behind it. Each day, millions of single-use plastic straws are being used and thrown into the oceans. Because of it, thousands of marine lives die each year due to ingestion of our plastic waste.

In major cities in the Philippines, most restaurants are now switching to paper straws. Paper straws are biodegradable but most people (including me) are not a big fan of them because they get soggy quickly and break easily (leaving you with pieces of paper in your mouth). The limitations of paper straw initiate the invention of several types of reusable straws that are considered more environment-friendly since you don’t throw them out after just one use.

There are several types of reusable straws and it’s a matter of personal preference on which type will work for you.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting reusable straws.

Shape

Reusable straws are either bent or straight in shape. Obviously, straight straws are easier to clean while bent straws are easier to use because you don’t need to tilt your glass while drinking.

Size

The standard size for reusable straws is 7 – 8.5 inches which is suitable for 8oz – 16oz glasses. There are also smaller (4 – 5 inches) and larger (10.5 inches) sizes available for cocktail and 20oz – 30oz glasses, respectively.

Diameter

Depending on the type of beverages that you’re going to drink, you will need a reusable straw with either smaller or bigger diameter. For instance, if you’re drinking thick smoothies or bubble teas (with large tapioca pearls), then use reusable straws that have 12mm – 14mm diameter.

Material

Reusable straws are made from variety of materials. Each material type has its own pros and cons.

1. Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Straw available at Earthsy

Stainless steel straws are by far the most durable reusable straws. It won’t break (no matter how hard you try) and it’s rust-proof. It also won’t retain the odor and flavor of your drinks. However, the first few times that you use it, you will get a metallic taste with your drinks. The solution to this is to wash the stainless straw several times with soapy water and rinse well before using it.

It’s also important to note that metal conducts heat very well, which means that you shouldn’t use stainless steel straws with hot drinks, otherwise you run the risk of burning your lips.

2. Glass

Glass Straw available at EcolutionPH

Glass straws are made from borosilicate – the same material that is used for making Pyrex glasses. Borosilicate glasses are considered shatter-resistant if you just drop them lightly. Since glass straws are transparent, it’s very easy to see if the straws are properly cleaned.

Glass straws are taste-neutral and they don’t retain the odor and flavor of the drinks. They are also suitable for both hot and cold beverages.

3. Silicone

Silicone Straw available at ecoMNL

Among all the reusable straws, silicone straws have the most similar “feel” to plastic straws. Their lightweight and rubbery texture makes them flexible so you can actually bend them just like plastic straws. If you have a habit of biting your straws, silicone straws are your perfect choice. You can also easily cut them in case you want a smaller straw.

Silicone straws can be used on both hot and cold beverages. They also don’t impart any taste to the drinks. However, silicone straws have a tendency to absorb strong odor (e.g. coffee). Moreover, when cleaning them, you have to make sure to dry them out completely before storing to avoid mold buildup.

4. Bamboo

Bamboo Straw available at ecoholicPH

If you’re looking for 100% eco-friendly straws, bamboo straws should be at the top of your list. They are completely biodegradable and free from dye and other chemicals. Using bamboo straws in your drinks will make you feel like you are in a tropical beach. In fact, those who have tried them said that bamboo straws actually add a little bit of tropical taste to their drinks (which other people might not like).

In terms of durability, bamboo straws are sturdy. However, proper care must be applied for them to last longer. For instance, always let your bamboo straws dry fully in a well-ventilated area before storing them in order to prevent mold.

Straw Accessories

Normally, when you buy reusable straws, they are bundled with a pouch and a cleaning brush. The pouch enables you to carry your reusable straws wherever you go and protects them from dust when not in use. Meanwhile, the long brush is a must-have tool so that you can clean the straws effectively.

Are you already using reusable straws? Which type is your favorite? Share them on the comment section below J

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1 comments

  1. Great suggestions. I also love silicone straws and wonder why they are not way more popular like stainless steel straws with other people too?

    ReplyDelete

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