Which Kind of Reusable Straws is Best - What’s the best plastic straw alternative?

Which Kind of Reusable Straws is Best - What’s the best plastic straw alternative?

… well, as with everything else there is no best answer to this question.  Let’s look at different kinds of plastic straw alternatives that are out there. 

We can divide them into two or three categories:
-reusable,
-disposable (biodegradable) and
-something in between

REUSABLE STRAWS

Silicone straws

Probably the most common reusable straw out there. They come in different shapes, sizes and colors making them perfect choice for kids. If you like your morning shake or yogurt however, make sure you get ones that are thick enough as these are generally soft and may suck close with thicker drinks.

PROS:

  • Great for kids
  • Very durable
  • Fun colors
  • Very portable
  • Great for hot and cold drinks

CONS:

  • Soft, not good for thicker drinks
  • Not as easy to clean

Stainless steel (metal) straws 

Probably most popular after the silicone ones. Metal straws are the most durable of all the reusable straws making them a great choice for travelers. They don’t require a case for travel if you don’t have one. Many people may not like the metal taste they may leave but that varies from brand to brand. If you like stainless steel straws but don’t want the aftertaste make sure you buy a set with silicone tips.

PROS:

  • Very durable
  • Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
  • Great for hot and cold drinks

CONS:

  • Occasional metal aftertaste (depending how sensitive your taste is)

Glass straws

Are very popular option for many. Because they leave no after taste and people are already used to drink out of glass; they feel natural.  They are sturdy but require extra care when using. Not suitable for small children. They are easy to clean and are dishwasher friendly.

PROS:

  • Aesthetic looking
  • Easy to clean
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Great choice for hot and cold drinks

CONS:

  • Not as durable as others

DISPOSABLE STRAWS

Paper straws

While these may not be best choice for everyday use, they may be a good choice for larger gatherings with lots of guests such as weddings or kids’ birthday parties. The drawback of these straws is that they don’t last very long when left in a drink. They will become soggy and pretty much useless after 20-30 min. Also, because of the thickness of the paper material they don't decompose as easily, they may get "mummified" in the landfill. They are however the most inexpensive and good choice if you need short term disposable straw. 

PROS:

  • Low price point
  • Come in variety of colors and designs

CONS:

  • Not long lasting when left in a drink
  • Not as biodegradable as advertised

Hay (wheat) straws

Are made out of the stems of wheat which makes them 100% biodegradable.  Hay straws are getting more popular because of the natural wheat stem strength and their minimal carbon footprint. Since they're not man-made each straw may have a different look.

PROS:

  • made by nature (100% biodegradable)
  • adds "rustic" look to your drink
  • can be broken or cut to size as needed

CONS:

  • break and split easily
  • thin (may need to use 2 or more)
  • not suitable for hot drinks

Grass straws

"New kid on the block" made out of wild grass from Vietnam called sedge grass. Sedge grass has a hollow stem which makes it perfect for naturally grown straws. Very similar in properties to wheat straws.

PROS:

  • made by nature (100% biodegradable)
  • don't get soggy as the paper straws
  • adds "rustic" look to your drink
  • can be broken or cut to size as needed
  • nicer (green) look than the hay straw

CONS:

  • thin (may need to use 2 or more)
  • don't get soggy as the paper straws
  • not suitable for hot drinks
  • have a shelf life of about 1 year (when dried)

REUSABLE AND DISPOSABLE

Bamboo Straws

Are both, reusable and disposable. Depending on the use and care each straw may last years. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant (may grow 3 feet/day) and it easily regenerates after harvest. Bamboo fibers have natural antimicrobial properties meaning they are less likely to harbor bacteria over time and be more resistant to spoiling or rotting over time. Their natural look makes them very attractive to tiki bar owners and fun overall.

PROS:

  • Very eco-friendly (biodegradable)
  • Nice natural look
  • Great for themed parties (tiki bar, etc.)
  • No strong taste alternation
  • Great for thicker drinks (shakes, yogurts, etc.)

CONS:

  • Will degrade over time
  • May not be as easy to clean as the others
  • Large diameter 
  With so many options out there, making the right choice can be overwhelming. I hope this article will help you to make an educated decision. If you still undecided or you'd like to try many of them EcoFreax offers a mixed pack from coupleDots. This reusable straw starter pack is designed for people like you to point you in the right direction on your zero-waste journey. 

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