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No More Plastic Straws: What Are the Alternatives?

Updated on July 16, 2018

Every year millions of plastic straws end up in the ocean endangering the marine life. The time has come, to find alternatives to single-use plastic straws once and for all.

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Why stop using plastic?

It's common knowledge that plastic is not good for the environment. Plastic is very difficult to decompose which means that it will remain in the landfills and oceans forever. Fortunately, many industries today have decided to reduce the use of plastic in the packaging of their products and use alternative recyclable materials like paper.

Every day we use plastic straws without thinking of the consequences of this habit. Every year millions and millions of single-use plastic straws are being used and eventually end up in the ocean. Not only are they clogging the shorelines but are also a health hazard for the marine fauna. In addition, many marine animals mistake the plastic straws for food and consume them not acknowledging the grave risk they are taking. The pictures of dead seabirds and fish with pieces of plastic in their bodies are evidence of the danger that exists in the use of plastic.

In the video below, you can see a sea turtle suffering because a plastic straw got in its nostril.

Alternatives to single-use plastic straws

The need for alternatives to one-use plastic straws is definitely urgent. The industries have to turn to Eco-friendly and recyclable materials. Below is a list of the alternatives proposed on the world wide web.

1. Reusable Plastic Straws

Though they are better than single-use plastic straws they are still made of plastic. At least, if they are cleaned and stored properly they will last for a lifetime.

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2. Metal Straws

Metals, like stainless steel, can be used to make straws. Metal is a recyclable material and the straws can be reused. Personally, I am not so fond of putting metal in my mouth (though, I did wear braces in high school).

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3. Glass Straws

Another recyclable material is glass. Although the straws can be reused many times, there is the danger of cutting yourself due to damage to the material. Also, glass is very sensitive and the straw can break very easily. Definitely not an alternative for straw chewers.

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4. Silicone straws

Silicone is not so easy to biodegrade but still better than plastic. Straws made of silicone can be reused but not indefinitely. Non-toxic food-grade silicone straws don't sound bad.

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Remember that If you choose a reusable straw, you must clean it thoroughly before every use

5. Compostable straws

Compostable straws are a great alternative. Unfortunately, compostable plastic can't really be used for the compost you make for your garden but needs to be composted industrially. Let's just hope that in the future there will be more infrastructure for industrial composting.

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6. Paper Straws

Paper is a recyclable material and it can also be used for composting. Paper straws are being manufactured to be strong and not collapse when wet.

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7. Bamboo straws

Bamboo is a natural material and can be harvested sustainably. Also, it can be used to make compost, so no waste here (some pandas are gonna get hungry though).

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8. Hay Straws

Hay is also a natural material. It is biodegradable and can be used for composting. After using them, you can also try giving them to your livestock (just kidding).

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9. Pasta Straws

Pasta is edible and can definitely be used to make compost as it's made out of flour and water. Believe it or not, pasta straws are being used already.

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10. Edible straws

They are straws that can be eaten and can come to all kinds of flavors. They can also be biodegraded very easily and can be used for compost. One of the ingredients that can be used to produce edible straws is seaweed (doesn't sound very tasty to me).

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11. Sippy cups

Sippy cups with recyclable lids is another way of reducing the use of single-use plastic straws (they will at least remind you of your childhood years).

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12. No straws

The obvious solution is not to use straws at all. If it is not possible to ban straws entirely, you can start by reducing the use of straws in your everyday life, or at least consider one of the alternatives.

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Do you think that technology should turn to the production of reusable or biodegradable straws?

See results

If you know of another alternative to single-use plastic straws feel free to recommend it in the comments' section below.


A useful article about every day habits to reduce your individual impact on the environment in the link below.

© 2018 Mary Petrou

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    • marypetrou profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Petrou 

      22 months ago from Greece

      Jeff, not a panda lover, right? Just Kidding! Bamboo straws are a great alternative as long as the bamboo trees are harvested sustainably.

    • marypetrou profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Petrou 

      22 months ago from Greece

      Thank you Pamela and Linda! The oceans are full of plastic and we need to take steps to reduce it. Using alternatives for plastic straws is a really small step but it is a great start to begin with keeping our oceans clean.

    • Erudite Scholar profile image

      Jeff Zod 

      22 months ago from Nairobi

      Bamboo straws are a good alternative.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      22 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've described some interesting substitutes for plastic straws. Thanks for sharing the information. However we do it, we need to reduce our use of plastic for the sake of the environment.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      22 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I really like this article, and we have used reusable straws for a long time. Our oceans and other bodiess of water are worth protecting.

    • marypetrou profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Petrou 

      22 months ago from Greece

      Thank you Frances! I really hope that in the future single-use plastic straws will be extinct. Let's just hope that technology will eventually create the best alternative for everyone! I find you to be very environmentally conscious. Good for you!

    • Frances Metcalfe profile image

      Frances Metcalfe 

      22 months ago from The Limousin, France

      I remember paper straws at school and the end always went flat! Those were the days of free milk. A friend uses a metal straw for drinking wine but isn't that keen on it. We avoid plastic in our house wherever possible. Engaging and informative article.

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