On average, Australians use an estimated 10 million straws per day, adding up to 3.5 billion straws being used per year by Australians alone (Sustainability Victoria, 2020; Clean Up Australia, 2020). So what can we do to reduce the amount of waste straws are creating?
Hang on.. Aren’t plastic straws recyclable?
Straws still count as hard plastic although they can bend, they can’t go into your recycling bin at home (Sustainability Victoria, 2020). This is because they’re just too small for our recycling facilities, so they go down the conveyor belt and often fall through the cracks of the machinery and end up in landfill and waterways (Sustainability Victoria, 2020).
So why isn’t there a ban on straws?
It’s all a big cycle, if we stop buying and using, then shops will stop stocking and supplying. It’s that simple, and it’s much easier to stop playing the blame game and to lead by example.
Additionally, straws are essential for some people who genuinely can’t drink directly from a glass, can or bottle.
Aren’t most drinks now served with paper straws now?
Paper is obviously better than plastic in terms of environmental impact. We all know that paper straws quality and stability degrade quickly, studies have even shown that paper straws lose 70-90% of their original stability after being in contact with liquids for less than 30 minutes (J.N. Gutierrez, A.W. Royals, H. Jameel, R.A. Venditti, L. Pal, 2019).
So what’s the big deal with paper straws since they already start degrading as you drink? Since you’re still throwing the paper straws away, there is still a chance for the straws to end up contaminating our waterways and wildlife. What’s worse is that if the straw ends up in landfill, there won’t be enough oxygen to let the paper biodegrade properly, meaning the paper straw is likely sticking around a lot longer than you might think.
It’s crazy to think that something we use on average for only 20 minutes will stick around for another 600 years (Clean Up Australia, 2020).
So, what are the best reusable straw alternatives for our planet?
Metal straws are a classic way to not only save the environment, but you’ll feel super fancy sipping cocktails with your friends using a metal straw! Perfect for cold drinks, reusable metal straws are also super easy to clean especially since ours are dishwasher safe. If you’re still unsatisfied with the cleanliness of your straw, we also have a straw cleaner in each pack to keep you covered.
Stainless steel straws have the added benefit of being 100% dishwasher safe, thankfully! They will usually come with a pipe-cleaner (a.k.a. a straw cleaner) making it super easy to clean a reusable straw.
The only limitation with metal straws are that you can’t drink hot drinks through them, since they do heat up very quickly in hot liquids. They also may not be the best for those of us who have developed a habit of biting plastic straws.
Our straws come in three different sizes to suit every kind of cold beverage! Our Cocktail sized straw is great for cocktails or drinks which have a water-like consistency. Our Regular straws are great for well blended smoothies and to take with you on the go, being a perfect all-rounder. Our Smoothie sized straw is perfect for thick smoothies and bubble tea!
Can’t decide which size is best for you? We have a pack of 6 straws which contain two of each size so you can try them all- it even comes with a straw cleaner for you to try!
What other types of straws are out there?
Perfect for kids and those of us who have developed a habit of biting our straws, silicone straws also come in different colors and shapes. They’re flimsier than metal straws, so they might not last as long however are still a much better alternative to single use plastic straws. They’re also safer to drink hot drinks through than a metal straw, although we wouldn’t recommend drinking hot drinks through a straw for normal use.
Be mindful when purchasing cheap silicone straws online, as they might not be BPA free.
Glass straws are super chic, and for those of us who love to know the inside of our straws are clean, these are a great option! Although glass is the least durable of the three reusable straw materials, it is the most recyclable material through commercial recycling.
Be careful though, you don’t want little kids to be playing with breakable glass.
The most biodegradable of our reusable straw list, bamboo straws are another sturdy option for your on the go smoothies. They break down in the ocean in about 4-6 months meaning they are unlikely to be harmful to wildlife if they end up in the ocean. However, they do last the shortest amount of time of all the straws and they are absorbent, meaning they are harder to clean and they also can’t be washed in a dishwasher.
If you forget your straw: refuse!
The cheapest and probably the easiest way to avoid plastic straws is to refuse to use them! If you don’t need to use straws and you’ve forgotten to bring your own, then you can simply refuse straws. It takes a little while to get into the habit of ordering a drink at a bar or café and asking “No straw please”, but with a bit of practice you’ll get there!