I’m a bit of a big kid myself when it comes to drinking – I love drinking out of a straw! These days though, we’ve all heard about the impact that plastic is having on our ocean and the environment and the UK is a big culprit. Here in the UK we consume approximately 8.5 billion plastic straws per year – that’s 130 straws per person on average!
Just look at these stats:
Recently as detailed above, the government has announced their plans to ban single-use plastic straws but don’t worry, there are some excellent environmentally friendly plastic straw alternatives on the market. It might take a little bit of time to get used to the slightly different texture, but there’s no need to give up the family fun of drinking through a straw completely!
I know how difficult it can be sometimes to get kids to drink enough and stay hydrated, having some plastic straw alternatives could help them to enjoy their water more.
5 Eco Friendly Alternatives to Plastic Straws
Plastic Straw Alternative #1 – Glass Straws
Glass straws have very little texture or taste change to them so could be the best option for those wanting to feel like as little as possible has changed about their drinking experience – ideal for sensitive children. Glass straws are made from glass that is very similar to oven dishes like Pyrex – it’s BPA free, dishwasher safe and shatterproof. They can break, but won’t shatter into lots of dangerous pieces. You can get them bent or straight, or in packs with a combination of both. They’re very inexpensive, but a lot are made and imported in China and you may want to research the companies you’re buying from for ethical reasons, or try to find some made more locally.
I did some research but found it difficult to get any information on the companies that are currently selling glass straws on Amazon, but StrawGrace offer both straight and bent packs of straws that are independently tested in Germany. You can recycle these when you’re done with them in your glass recycling.
Plastic Straw Alternative #2 – Bamboo Straws
Bamboo straws are both biodegradable and reusable. Bamboo is an easy to grow, sustainable crop and buying bamboo straws can support communities in countries such as Bali, where these are hand-made rather than mass manufactured. Doing some research on the company can help ensure you’re buying from an ethical source. I can recommend Bambaw as an ethical company that makes an excellent product and they sell their straws in a pack of 12 plus cleaning brush and storage bag for around the £10 mark
Bamboo straws can be composted when no longer wanted.
Plastic Straw Alternative #3 – Silicone Straws
My mum bought me a pack of silicone straws for Christmas and I’ve been very happy with them. I use one every day as I think they make my protein shake or smoothie a little more fun! I personally prefer a flexible straw to the hard glass, bamboo or stainless steel straw, but it all comes down to personal preference. A big bonus for me with silicone straws is that you can get them in different widths. The ones my mum bought me from Seraphina’s Kitchen come in smoothie width – very handy for a thicker drink.
The downside is most council’s do not recycle silicone currently, although they are very difficult to damage so should last a very long time.
Plastic Straw Alternative #4 – Paper Straws
Paper straws are disposable and once use so are what you will be receiving in restaurants and fast food joints with your drinks now. Although on the whole, a re-usable product that last years before being recycled or composted is better than a disposable one that last a single use, paper straws are completely recyclable. Paper is the most commonly recycled element in the UK and has very high returns, which makes paper straws the most economical way of creating a disposable straw. If you’re throwing a kids party and you want a pack of straws then this is ideal, as it’s a much more inexpensive method than buying everyone a bamboo or glass straw. That being said, perhaps a re-usable straw is an idea for the party bag!
The downside to paper straws is the texture definitely feels different, and if you spend a while drinking your drink you might notice your straw is already getting soggy and beginning to degrade.
Plastic Straw Alternative #5 – Stainless Steel Straws
My final option is stainless steel straws, which are made of food-grade stainless steel. These will last a very long time and are almost unbreakable!
Personally I do think that these alter the taste of the drink slightly and there is the risk with children that they could bite hard on them and damage their teeth. It’s pretty minimal, but knowing my son if he can find a way to hurt himself on something, he will! As the environment goes, these are the least environmentally friendly as stainless steel is often not widely recycled, usually requiring a scrap metal dealer who is unlikely to be interested in the amount of metal in a straw, but since they last such a long time, they’re still an eco-friendly viable alternative. Some people may prefer them and they’re relatively inexpensive and come in packs of assorted lengths and shapes for your personal preference
Saving the world one straw at a time…
As you can see, the focus on the alternative to plastic straws is to choose something that is either reusable, biodegradable or recyclable and ditching the plastic straw completely. By making the simple switch of removing plastic straws from your lives and using one of the above options you’ll be making a real difference.
You might also like to read some of these eco conscious / environmentally friendly posts, which will help your whole family help save the world we live in:
- 10 ways to be a more eco friendly parent
- 5 simple switches to save the environment
- Natural cleaning solutions
- Why you should walk to school
- Fair trade parenting
- Organic vs conventional cotton
Note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links.