By Julianne Waite
Several years ago, a gut-wrenching video of a sea turtle having a plastic straw removed from its nose went viral. For many viewers, that painful video was their wake up call to the global issue of plastic pollution.
In the years since, awareness about the plastic pollution crisis has grown exponentially and a number of cities, towns, states, and countries around the world have enacted laws to limit plastic straws and other single-use foodware.
Interestingly, plastic straws did not become Public Enemy No. 1 because they are the most common type of plastic found in the ocean. In fact, studies suggest that plastic straws make up less than 0.025% of ocean plastic.
According to PPC project The Last Plastic Straw, plastic straws emerged as the front runner for the anti-plastic pollution movement because of what they represent: the epitome of unnecessary single-use plastic pollution for most people.
Plastic straws are designed to only be used one time for a convenient few minutes and then discarded to pollute our planet for centuries to come. And while there are certainly some individuals who do need a plastic straw, the vast majority of the world’s population does not.
And this is how plastic straws became the poster child of the anti-plastic pollution movement. If people can understand why plastic straws are unnecessary environmental hazard, it is an easy next step to see that the same is true of plastic bags and plastic water bottles and plastic cutlery and so on.
This is why we consider plastic straws to be the gateway plastic–they are the single-use item that opens up people’s awareness to the larger problem of plastic.
Now, perhaps you are totally on board with eliminating single-use plastic straws but you still need or prefer to enjoy your beverages with a straw. Well, we’ve got you covered! We compiled this Skip The (Plastic) Straw Day list featuring Plastic Pollution Coalition members.
Also, use this free download of a card that you can leave on the table at your favorite eatery to encourage them to stop offering plastic straws at their business.
Metal straws are an excellent alternative to plastic straws. Why are metal straws so great? They are:
Sturdy, so they are great for portability
The most common type of metal straws available are made of stainless steel, however other types of metal straws are available as well, such as copper straws. Here are some of the metal straws our Coalition members offer:
Bambaw creates ‘zero-waste products for a better future,’ including a stainless steel straw set. Their metal straw bundle comes with 4 straws, 2 cleaning brushes, 2 bamboo cases, and a cotton carrying pouch.
Simply Straws may be better known for their glass straws, but they also offer quality stainless steel straws that come with a lifetime guarantee. They can be purchased individually or in combination with their mason jar lids as part of their Sip Set.
Steeley’s Drinkware offers a suite of high quality reusable stainless steel drinkware items including straws. Steeley’s straws come in a variety of colors and can also be custom printed.
U-Konserve has been helping people make small daily changes in efforts to go zero-waste since 2008. They offer a variety of reusable plastic alternatives including stainless steel straws that also come in gold and copper colors.
Uncommon James Home is a luxury homegoods line designed by celeb Kristin Cavallari and that features elegant copper straws that come in a set of four with a cleaning brush.
Klean Kanteen might be best known for their adorable reusable water bottles, but they also offer stainless steel straws with silicone tips, which are perfect for anyone with sensitive teeth.
ZippNada is an online store that offers affordable zero-waste gear, including reusable stainless steel straws in some very sleek colors.
Another great sustainable alternative to single-use plastic straws are glass straws. They boast their own unique benefits including:
They are non-toxic
They are typically heat resistant, so they can be used in hot or cold beverages
They are reusable
They can have really beautiful designs
Here are some of the glass straws that out Coalition members offer:
Bambu offers 7″ glass straws that are both dishwasher and microwave safe. They are also made with extra thick walls to prevent them from breaking.
DrinkingStraws.Glass offers a variety of fun and useful glass straws including this one with a rainbow accent that will brighten anyone’s day! What is really cool about these straws is you can select your own diameter, length, and style (straight or curved) when you order online.
Simply Straws has a wide selection of glass straws in different shapes and sizes and that come in a range of fun colors. You can even personalize them, which makes them a great gift.
Glass Dharma is a family-owned leader in the glass straw industry. They offer a wide range of glass straws that range from sleek and simple to playful and ornate.
If you are looking for a straw that will impress your friends and start conversations that raise awareness about plastic pollution, look no further than these awesome collapsable straws. Collapsable straws are great because:
They are super portable
They are great for impressing your friends
Check out these made by our Coalition members.
Final Straw boasts the original plastic-free folding straw. All of their straws come with a cleaning brush and a carrying case that is small enough to fit on your keychain. Designed for ultimate convenience, you will never forget your reusable straw again.
SUX Straw offers stainless steel extendable straws that come with travel cases and the optional add-on of a brightly colored silicone tip for some extra flare.
Life Without Plastic is an online store with a large selection of items that help people eliminate plastic from their lives. One of the the popular items they offer is a telescopic stainless steel straw that comes with a cleaner with natural bristles and a cotton carrying case.
Bamboo straws are an excellent alternative to single-use plastic straws and have a number of great benefits including:
They are made from natural materials
They are reusable
They are often handmade
Check out these bamboo straws offered by some of our Coalition members.
Bambaw creates ‘zero-waste products for a better future,’ including reusable bamboo straws handmade from Indonesian bamboo. Their bamboo straws come in 3 lengths and with a cleaning brush.
Lovers of the Sea is an online store that offers a variety of products to help ocean lovers go plastic-free. One of their offerings is a 9 piece bamboo straw set that comes with two cleaners and a linen travel pouch.
Bambu introduced the first commercially available bamboo straw in 2012. Their straws come in sets of six with a cleaning brush. *BONUS* these straws are USDA certified organic.
Bamboo Mamboo supplies bamboo straws and other eco-friendly products to businesses and individuals around the world. Their straws are available for purchase by themselves, in sets of three, six, or in bulk. They also offer the option to customize straws.
Sustainable Single-Use Straws
We are huge advocates for all things reusable (including straws, of course!). But in some instances the reusable options listed above don’t make much sense, for example in the case of restaurants. For such instances we have some amazing sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic straws. Check them out below.
Aardvark offers paper straws that are durable, FDA food grade compliant approved, and made in the USA. Did we mention they come in super fun colors, too?
Fresh Straws are fresh, natural, biodegradable straws that are made out of grass that grows naturally and abundantly in Vietnam.
Harvest Straws offers sustainable drinking straws made from heritage grain in Southern California. These ultra low-carbon straws are hand-cut and non-GMO!
Holy City Straw Company was established to create awareness into the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws while providing an eco-friendly alternative that is 100% made by Mother Earth.
LOLIWARE makes straws out of seaweed that are non-GMO, 100% food grade, and designed to disappear after use.
Stroodles offers straws made out of pasta. Yup, you heard right–pasta! Flavorless, biodegradable, edible, and zero-waste, these pasta straws are a fun and creative alternative to plastic straws.
Green Straws offers straws made from 100% Vietnamese fresh rice flour, tapioca, natural colors, and no chemical preservatives.
thank you refill madness for what you are doing. we can all do our part, it is not difficult, it just takes a brain readjustment, and then the simple changes we make become very easy to implement into our daily routines. It is not rocket science, just plain common sense and a greater awareness and care for our planet.
This article helped me find the right straw thank you!!!!
Help, my son has cerebral palsy and relies on bendable plastic straws to drink. He cannot use paper as they distintegrate when he sucks on them. He cannot use stainless steel glass as he holds the straw with his teeth and this is likely to crack his teeth?
Any robust bendable straws available?
Thank you Hilary