30 Alternatives to Plastic Straws to Skip Single-Use Plastic

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

Metal straws are an excellent alternative to plastic straws. Why are metal straws so great? They are:

  • Endlessly reusable

  • Sturdy, so they are great for portability

  • Non-toxic

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.

Glass Straws

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.

Collapsable Straws

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

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.

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Straws film is now available for home viewing! Gather your family & friends and share “one of the 5 documentaries to make you rethink single-use plastic.”

Narrated by PPC notable Tim Robbins and featuring PPC members, the film is “both an educational resource and a call to action.” (For Public Screenings & Schools, learn more here on licenses.)

In order to watch, simply follow the steps below:
1. Click the link: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/straws/
2. Select the $2.99 streaming option
3. Sign in using Google or Facebook or VIMEO
4. Apply the code ‘PPC’ in the payment window
5. The video will be ready to stream

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By Californians Against Waste

In the past several years, the public perception of plastic pollution has increased dramatically, and so has the understanding of the urgency for the need to find solutions.

From straws to Styrofoam, 2018 offered the California legislature a number of opportunities to vote to reduce plastic waste. A diverse package of legislation tackling plastic pollution was introduced at the beginning of 2018, but only a select few of those bills made it through the entire legislative process and all the way to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Governor Jerry Brown did in fact sign several of those bills into law and made his boldest statement to date on the public health and environmental threat posed by plastic pollution and waste. News stations around the country picked up the story of the “straws upon request” legislation becoming law in California, sparking a national conversation about the broader issue of plastic pollution. The 2018 package of plastic pollution reduction laws introduced in California included several additional key policies that tackle plastic pollution at different angles.

Phasing out non-recyclable to-go food packaging has remained a foundational goal for the environmental movement since the late 1980s, and in 2018 policy makers made a breakthrough. Senate Bill (SB) 1335, authored by Senator Ben Allen, which was signed into law, phases out takeout food packaging that is not widely recycled or composted, has toxic ingredients, makes up a significant portion of pollution in public spaces, or substantial negative impacts on wildlife from being used at state facilities, including state parks, beaches, colleges, office buildings, and fairgrounds. Arguably, the most significant component of the bill is that it redefines what is “recyclable” to mean only materials that are truly collected, sorted, processed, and recycled into new products. The policy approach used in this legislation offers a scalable solution and is a good model to use moving forward as California moves towards a comprehensive solution to phasing out unsustainable food packaging.

New research on the presence of microplastics in our diets found plastic to be present in 90% of table salt brands, and an even more disturbing study found microplastics to be present in human feces. Several pieces of legislation were introduced in 2018 in response to the growing concerns from the scientific community that continues to find alarming levels of plastic in our environment and the food and water we consume. Senator Anthony Portantino set California on track to increase our understanding of microplastic pollution and to work towards solutions. Two bills addressing microplastic pollution were signed into law this year, including SB 1263 which requires the Ocean Protection Council to develop and implement a statewide microplastics strategy which will include a research plan and recommendations for policy changes. The second bill, SB 1422, requires drinking water to be tested for the presence of microplastic pollution and for the results to be disclosed to the public. The implementation of these bills will provide the public and policy makers with the information necessary to understand the impact that microplastic pollution has on public health and the environment.

These new laws set the tone for future efforts to reduce plastic pollution and will shape the long term policy solutions to plastic waste in California and the world.

The mission of Californians Against Waste is to conserve resources, prevent pollution and protect California’s environment through the development, promotion and implementation of waste reduction and recycling policies and programs.

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Photo: Plastic straws collected on a beach. Photo by Dianna Cohen

Today Governor Jerry Brown signed 2 of 6 bills to reduce plastic pollution in California and beyond. SB 1335 – Sustainable Food Packaging – prohibits non-recyclable and non-compostable takeout food packaging at state facilities including parks, beaches, colleges, and fairgrounds. AB 1884 – Straws Upon Request – requires restaurants to offer straws only upon request.

In a signing statement for Straws Upon Request, Gov. Brown said: “Plastics, in all forms–straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.–are choking our planet. It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.”

Click here to download a free table tent for businesses to print and display. 

Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw, a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition, praised California for bold leadership. “I am so pleased so see California stepping up to address plastic pollution and making straws available upon request. The plastic straw is the connector to the broader problem and the key to opening the door of awareness and our role in creating and demanding change. AB 1884 is a win for the health of humans, animals, waterways and oceans, and our environment.”

Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition said: “Thank you to all of our Coalition members, notable members, and partners for your support and passion towards a world free of plastic pollution.”

Thank you to all of our members and followers who joined our campaign to ask Gov. Brown to sign Straws Upon Request.

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San Francisco, CA passed the Plastic, Toxics and Litter Reduction Ordinance this week as a result of years of work by many stakeholders. The ordinance bans the sale and distribution of single-use plastic and bio-plastic straws (with exemptions for those who need them) plus utensils, stirrers, and similar items, in addition to foodware containers that contain fluorinated chemicals. The ordinance further requires that all single-use foodware and accessories must be compostable (accepted by the city’s composting program) or recyclable.

The Last Plastic Straw (a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition) first advised Surfrider San Francisco’s “Plastic Straws Suck” campaign in February 2015 before collaborating with the SF EPA on a toolkit for plastic straw campaigns later that year. When SF Supervisors were considering a plastic straws ordinance in 2016, PPC and TLPS wrote letters of support.

In June, Pier 39 made a commitment to go plastic straw free and to screen STRAWS, a short film featuring The Last Plastic Straw, to millions of visitors all summer long. Along with other stakeholders, TLPS continued to support and share best practices on plastic reduction ordinances with Supervisor Katy Tang’s office before speaking in support for the ordinance with member organizations. PPC and TLPS signed another letter of support created by PPC member UPSTREAM in favor of the ordinance on June 16 before attending a rally and press conference at City Hall on the same day.

“At a time when we are fighting to protect our coastlines from offshore drilling and risk of oil spills, our communities are actively participating in a form of an oil spill from land,” said Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw, at the SF Supervisors Land Use Committee meeting in support  for the ordinance. “We need to demand a change and take responsibility for our waste. It is time we grow up so that our future generations can.”

For more information, see this post from the Surfrider Foundation and this article from SF Environment. 

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Earlier this month, when Starbucks announced a global phase out of plastic straws, environmentalists and activists praised Starbucks’ efforts to cut back on single-use plastic. Plastic straws are not recycled, may harm wildlife, and consistently make the Top Ten list of items found on the beach, according to International Coastal Cleanup data.

Starbucks has started the process of switching from the traditional plastic cup and green straw combo to a strawless lid, quickly dubbed by the public as an “adult sippy cup.”

While no longer serving plastic straws in every drink is a good start, Plastic Pollution Coalition notable members and cartoonists are reacting to the idea of the single-use plastic “adult sippy cup” and the critical need to stop using so many plastic cups in the first place. 

“While this move is a step in the right direction,” says Jackie Nuñez, founder of The Last Plastic Straw (a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition), “We challenge Starbucks to take the next step by promoting branded reusable cups, straws, and cutlery. This would show social and environmental responsibility, increase profits, save money, and generate less waste.”

What do YOU think? Tell us in the comments section.

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