Thinking about your own personal carbon footprint and how it affects our world can sometimes feel a bit daunting. Maybe this is why small-step initiatives like banning single-use plastics, specifically straws, have been on the rise the last few months. From small-town restaurants to large corporations, and entire cities and states, people are taking more notice of the modern world’s miracle material and the negative side effects it has on our planet.
According to National Geographic’s research for Planet or Plastic – a multiyear initiative to raise awareness of the global plastic crisis and reduce the amount of single-use plastic that is polluting our world’s oceans – more than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then tossed. Additionally, more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our world’s ocean, much of which lived a previous life as plastic bottles, bags, or packaging materials. Estimates for how long plastic endured range from 450 years to forever.
These statistics come with harsh realities to face – videos regularly surface that display animals with injuries or in pain from plastic straws and fishing nets, people making a living by picking plastic from the local landfill that they live in, and rivers and bays hiding below waves of discarded trash.
Though just a small fraction of the planet’s plastic pollution, straws have become a symbol of waste that is a feasible solution for consumers and businesses to rally behind. On July 1, Seattle implemented a ban on non-compostable disposable straws. Bans have also been proposed in California state-wide and New York City, with several other cities following their example. Even Starbucks announced conversion by 2020 to no-straw lids for all cold drinks except for Frappuccinos, which will be served with straws made from sustainable materials.
However, while the idea of a straw-ban sounds great and easy to initiate, phasing out traditional plastic straws can be more complicated than it seems. Not everyone can drink a beverage without a straw – young children, elderly citizens, and those with disabilities often need the tool to help hydrate – and reusable straws made out of materials like stainless steel or glass can be potentially hazardous to end users. With that in mind, it’s best to keep a few of the traditional ones around, and we should be aware that accessibility takes more empathetic understanding of the issues of others.
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Those using plastic straws most likely aren’t sea turtle-hating resource-destroyers; but if you and your family have decided to go reusable, or your establishment is looking into single-use straw replacements, i+s rounded up some straw options that not only look good, but make you feel good about buying them, too. We encourage you to consider sipping, slurping, and sucking responsibly with our picks below.
Reusable Copper Straws by United By Blue
United By Blue’s reusable copper straws make the perfect partner for any mule mug. Coming in sets of four, the straws are hand welded from durable, handsome copper and are engraved with mini evergreen trees. For every product sold, United By Blue will remove one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways. Since its start, the organization has so far removed over 1 million pounds of trash.
Reusable, durable, recyclable, dentist recommended, and handmade in California - what’s not to like about Simply Straws reusable glass straws? Each straw comes in both a bent or straight option in a variety of colors. To take it one step further, Simply Straws created a non-profit partner straw where one percent of the gross income from each straw is donated to a partner organization. The straw comes in seven different colors, each one representing a different group, such as green for Protect Our Winters or amber for Plastic Pollution Coalition.
Kate Spade's reusable acrylic straws
Part of the plastics family (acrylate polymer), acrylics aren’t the cleanest option out there, but unlike other reusable options, it won’t break or pierce, is durable, and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. BPA, phthalate, and lead-free, many reusable tumblers come with a set of acrylic straws already as they can withstand temperature changes and won’t break. They don’t have to stay paired, however; even when the tumbler isn’t in use, tote the straw around as a single-use replacement. If you don’t have any, Kate Spade has released fashion-forward collections with fun prints.
Paper straws have been the darling of Instagram event planners and perfectly-poised Pinterest links for a few years now. But if you’ve used one of these cuties for too long, you know they don’t hold up exceptionally well. That isn’t necessarily a reason to nix them, but it’s worth noting they’re one-time-use only. For events and restaurants, however, that can be a boon. They hold up long enough for a patron to enjoy their drink while providing a tossable option that won’t harm the earth like single-use plastic.
Bamboo Straws from Package Free Shop
Bamboo, a natural grass known for being the meal of choice for panda bears, is one of the quickest-growing natural resources in the world. The thick, durable material is cleaned up for use practically straight out of the ground, and makes the perfect wide-mouthed straw. What’s more: bamboo is 100 percent compostable. These unfinished bamboo straws available through Package Free Shop are less than $2, and supports Package Free’s aim to provide sustainable goods without the single-use packaging.
Bubba Big Straws
Like acrylic, silicone is a synthetic material that is part of the plastic family, but is made from cleaner elements (“silic” comes from “silica” or sand), is soft, durable, and can withstand high temperature changes. Because it’s pliable, silicone straws are perfect for little mouths and fingers. The Bubba Big Straws are available from Target for a low-cost, are BPA-free, dishwasher-cleanable, and come in fun colors so each kid (or those kids-at-heart) can choose their own personal straw to replace single-use plastic.
Stainless Steel and Silicone Straws
We here at interiors+sources use Klean Kanteen.
Klean Kanteen’s Straw Set is the perfect pairing to go along with your favorite tumbler or go-to pint glass. Made from high quality 18/8 stainless steel with a removable, safe, and food grade silicone flex tip, these reusable straws make sipping safe, easy, and spill resistant. Bonus: each set comes with cleaning brush made from natural palm fibers to keep your straw squeaky clean.
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Stainless Steel Collapsible Straw
FinalStraw is the first patent-pending collapsible straw of its kind. Clean, compact, and made for the modern market, each stainless steel FinalStraw arrives in a colorful, 100-percent recycled case available in four fun colors - Suck-ulent Green, Shark-Butt Grey, Healthy Coral, and Artic-Melt Blue. Our favorite part? FinalStraws multi-packs offer the ability to save some sea creatures - 50 straws save a whale and 100 save a pod of dolphins. FinalStraw expects to make its first debut delivery in November, just in time to make the perfect holiday gift for the whole office.
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