Summer is getting closer and closer, and what better way to beat the heat than with a cool, refreshing drink? So that you can enjoy your drinks in an easy and convenient way, in this issue we will talk about disposable plastic straws and also some more environmentally friendly options.
Surely your heart, like ours, broke when you saw that viral photo of the turtle with a straw up its nose. And why not, when plastic is one of the main culprits of the pollution that afflicts our planet. Therefore, it is worth promoting the use of reusable straws to reduce unnecessary waste.
So that you can do your bit to help reduce the amount of straws that end up polluting the environment, in this guide we will show you the best options for eco-friendly straws. We will also talk about conventional straws for those situations where eco-friendly straws are not the most convenient.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Straws: Our Picks
- 4 Buying Guide
- 5 Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different straw models
- A straw is a tube that allows you to drink liquids from containers by suction with your mouth. Most are made of plastic, but given the high pollution they cause, new and popular eco-friendly options have emerged. These are made from biodegradable or reusable materials that encourage long-term use.
- Plastic straws are universal, common and readily available. They are available in different shapes and sizes and are offered in the vast majority of food and beverage outlets around the world. Reusable straws are less common and are often made of stainless steel, silicone and bamboo.
- We promote the use of reusable straws. In choosing the right one, it is worth considering how sustainably it is produced, how easy it is to clean, how durable it is and how easy it is to recycle in case the straw is damaged and needs to be disposed of and replaced.
The Best Straws: Our Picks
Now that you know the best commercial options for plastic and eco-friendly straws, let's take a look at the qualities, features and buying factors of a good straw. Read on to learn more about these useful gadgets that make it easier to consume your favourite beverages.
What is a straw and what are its advantages?
They are often made of plastic; however, they are highly polluting, especially considering that they are discarded after being used for only a few minutes and take hundreds of years to degrade. It is estimated that around 500 million straws are used every day in the United States alone.
A large proportion of these straws end up as waste in nature, particularly in the oceans. As statistics on the impact of plastic straws on the environment become increasingly widespread, new reusable options made from more environmentally friendly materials such as stainless steel and even bamboo have emerged.
Plastic and reusable straws - what to look out for?
Plastic straws. The most polluting options, but also the most common, universal and accessible. There are straight straws and also those with a collapsible section that allows you to adjust the inclination of the top, providing greater convenience when drinking.
Reusable straws. Commonly made of stainless steel, silicone, bamboo, hemp, avocado seed and other resistant materials that allow for prolonged and continuous use. They are designed to be easy to clean so that they can be used multiple times. They are much more durable than plastic straws.
|Plastic straws||Reusable straws|
|Availability||Universal||In specialised shops/internet|
Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different straw models
We're excited that you're interested in contributing to the straw-free movement that has taken the world by storm. To make the choice that's right for you, take a look at the following buying factors to help you make an informed decision.
- Sustainability of production
- Ease of cleaning
- Durability and convenience
- Ease of recycling
Sustainability of production
It is an undisputed fact that reusable straws are more environmentally friendly (considering that they are used perpetually and not thrown away). However, if you are interested in choosing the most environmentally friendly option in all respects, it is also worth considering how sustainable the manufacturing method of the straw of your choice is.
Although a metal or silicone straw is environmentally friendly in that it is designed to be reusable, the production of these materials is more industrialised and certainly involves high CO2 emissions. In this case, it is worth considering straws made from sustainable processes, such as bamboo and avocado seed.
Ease of cleaning
If you are considering a reusable straw, bear in mind that you will need to wash it constantly to maintain hygiene. Otherwise, bacteria and dirt can build up on the inside, which can be counterproductive and harmful.
Diameter. While all reusable straws are actually quite easy to wash, it is worth considering the diameter of each straw. As a general rule, any straw with a diameter of 8 to 10 millimetres will be easy to clean. Anything below this size will be more difficult.
Brushes. When comparing options, it is best to opt for those that include cleaning brushes. If not, it can be difficult to get brushes of exactly the right size to reach the interior easily. All high quality kits should include at least one brush.
Friction. Friction and porosity of the straw material can alter the ease with which the brush is inserted. In this regard, stainless steel straws are best because the brush slides smoothly inside. Bamboo and particularly silicone straws can be a little trickier.
Durability and convenience
The durability of reusable straws varies depending on their material. Generally speaking, all can be used for extended periods of time, but some have the potential to last for many years.
Plastic straws. These are designed for one-time use, so their construction is not durable. They can be easily bent, punctured or damaged, especially considering that the plastic used to manufacture the cheaper ones is quite thin.
Stainless steel straws. These are the most durable of all, as stainless steel is the most resistant to corrosion, deformation and general damage. However, they are not very flexible and can be slightly heavier than silicone or bamboo straws.
Silicone straws. They are lighter and more convenient. They offer greater flexibility and malleability, but are more prone to puncture if not handled with care. Due to their thermal properties, they are very resistant to the hottest beverages.
Bamboo straws. Although bamboo is solid and strong, they can become slightly soft and lose surface stiffness over time. They are not flexible. They are less likely to break, but more likely to break than a silicone or steel straw. Despite this, they are very strong and durable.
Ease of recycling
Although durable, reusable straws are not indestructible. It is certainly possible for them to become irreparably damaged, which will result in them having to be discarded and replaced. In this case, more environmentally conscious users are likely to want to consider the ease of recycling each material.
Ease of recycling refers to how easily the material can be reused to make products in the future. While this doesn't necessarily mean that you will recycle it, there are businesses dedicated to buying recyclable materials that can help you dispose of your straws in an eco-friendly way.
|Ease of Recycling||High||High||Low||Low|
(Featured image photo: Elena Veselova/123rf.com)