We know how easy it is to rely on plastic products. They save time (hello, throwing dishes away instead of washing them), and they decrease clutter (no need to store those cups in your cabinets). Really, we get it. But when you take a look at how harmful something like a plastic straw can be for the environment, it's hard not to want to make a change in your day-to-day use of them.
Americans use nearly 500 million plastic straws every day. The problem? Most of these single-use straws are too lightweight to be recognized by a mechanical recycling sorter causing them to be disposed as garbage, which makes it more likely for them to end up in the ocean. Right now, 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs, which skyrockets their mortality rate to 50%. At the rate we're using straws, there is estimated to be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, according to a report by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation.
How Can I Help?
Luckily, the solution is easy. Major companies like Starbucks have announced that they'll be ditching the straws in their establishments over the next couple of years for biodegradable options — and you can do your part, too! For just a few dollars, you can purchase a reusable straw (or a few) to carry with you in place of the plastic variety. Once you're in the habit, you'll hardly notice a difference and you'll be doing your part to help save marine life.
The first step: choosing the right material for you. Here are your options:
Stainless Steel Straws
These metal straws are one of the most popular on the market for a reason: They're super durable, won't absorb the flavor or smell of your drink, are non-corrosive, and most can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
FYI: They are more likely to pick up the temperature of your drink and become super hot or super cold, so stainless steel may not be the best option for people with sensitive teeth.
Like stainless steel, glass straws won't absorb any flavors or smells from your drink and are non-corrosive. They'll also be less likely to get super hot or super cold, depending on what you are drinking.
FYI: Because glass is more fragile, you may want to hand wash these as opposed sticking them in the dishwasher. You'll also want to look for "shatter-proof" options, as they're less likely to break.
Unlike structured glass and metal straws, silicone straws tend to be flexible, making them easier to fit them into smaller and different cup openings.
FYI: They're less temperature sensitive, so better for people with easily irritated teeth, but may be more susceptible to getting mold so you'll want to make sure to clean them often in the dishwasher or with a straw brush, and allow them to dry properly.
These straws are usually made using only bamboo so you don't have to worry about any added dyes or chemicals and will likely have a straw that lasts for years.
FYI: Because they are often made from a single stem of bamboo, each straw will differ in size and diameter making it tough to know for sure if it'll fit your go-to cup before you buy.
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