Plastic Straws Are Starting to Disappear From Public Spaces—Now What?
Whether you're for or against the ban, you still need to drink. Here, we break down your options.
1. Straws are bad.
2. Straws are going away.
The first seems hard to argue with—a deeply unsettling video went viral a few years back, in which ocean scientists dug a straw out of the nostril of a sea turtle (warning: there's some language, and it's really hard to watch).
Straws are just one part of the whole, well, sea of plastic that we make and use daily. But their shape, size, and weight mean that they easily end up outside the trash. They're also pretty darn sturdy, and they're not easy to recycle. So they often end up in the oceans, where they do terrible things like show up in the fish that we like to eat and hurt marine life.
Straws aren't disappearing entirely, obviously. Only a few municipalities have actually introduced legislation to ban them, but many restaurants (and at least one airline) have stopped stocking them, and it's clear that there's a move to make using a disposable straw as frowned upon as using disposable plastic bags.
But while this fight continues to rage around you, there you are, at a restaurant, with a refreshing drink or glass of water in front of you. And you still have to stay hydrated. So what do you do? Here are some ideas:
Drink From the Glass
Pros: It's the simplest solution, and provided you are able to do it, probably the most convenient. Also, it turns out that straws have a bad habit of causing wrinkles, and it's possible (though unlikely) that they cause gas and bloating.
Cons: I mean, that glass is probably clean, right? You don't see any lipstick on it, do you?
Bring Your Own Straw
Cons: You have to carry something around.
Pros: You get to drink from a straw! If you're really uninterested in giving that up (and, tbh, not blaming you) this is really your main option. But the question is: What kind? If you want something that lasts, and that is easy to clean, a metal straw is probably the way to go. They're not super expensive, and good ones come with their own cleaning brush. You can keep it in your purse, bust it out when you need it, and then just toss it in the dishwasher or hand wash at home.
Boom: problem solved.
But then you have something else to carry around that needs to be kept clean, and then cleaned again after you use it. And if you're going to do that, you might as well carry the entire drink container too.
If the whole value in a straw is that you use it and then toss it, you want something that you don't mind throwing away. Enter Repurpose straws: They're compostable, so they're not going to end up harming wildlife, and they're much sturdier than paper straws or even other compostable straws.
We tried them here, and they hold up remarkably well, not cracking or snapping the way paper, (and some cheaper plastic straws) do. They're sturdy enough to stand up to hot drinks as well, without melting or falling apart.
They aren't perfect, and to be completely fair, they feel a little thin, and at least two reviewers noticed a subtle "taste." (I, personally, did not.) But at $10 for about 100 straws, they're a little over a dime apiece, which isn't too bad.
Use a Twizzler
Pros: It's edible, so there's no environmental waste! Plus, it lends a pleasant strawberry-ish flavor to anything you drink. (I'm assuming you're using the strawberry ones. Don't, for the love of all that is holy, use the licorice ones.) A single straw is only about 35 calories, and there's no saturated fat, so they're even (sort of) healthyish, right?
Cons: They're not that healthy. The things are full of sugar. And do you want all of your drinks to taste like strawberry Twizzlers? Plus, have you read the ingredients? Ferrous Sulfate? Palm oil? Red 40? No thank you.
Also: You're not twelve. Don't actually do this.
Bottom Line: If you don't want to buy straws and carry them around, and you can actually drink from a glass, just do that. If it's dirty? Send it back. And if you're not able to drink from a straw, ask the waiter for one, even if you brought your own—restaurants are encouraged to keep a stock on hand for people who need them. It's good to remind them of that.