Don't Be A Sucker: Reusable straws you can buy online
Do you really need that straw?
The majority of the millions of straws used every minute are not for accessibility or medical reasons, with 500 million straws used and discarded per day in America alone. A stat so big it's easy to gloss over because it's impossible to wrap your mind around such an impossibly high number, and that's just one country. The incredible scale of our single-use plastic consumption far exceeds a justifiable demand.
In light of this, I have great news for you. You probably don't have to use a single-use plastic straw ever again. I know, I'm stoked too! Personally, I never really saw the appeal and have always declined single-use straws. I've found my hands and mouth totally adequate for the situation because using and discarding that plastic always seemed uncomfortable to me.
Yet there are always scenarios even for the able-bodied where straws are necessary (after surgery), more convenient (while driving) or just plain enjoyable to use (especially when sipping a green smoothie with a straw made of bamboo). I'm writing this at a time my partner is about to have surgery on both hands and lose the use of them for an unknown amount of time, so his access to food and drinks is a topical issue. Here are some, but not all, of the non-plastic alternatives available for sale online to avoid plastic trash in this scenario.
Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials on the planet due to its incredible regrowth rate, lack of resources needed to grow and its carbon positive footprint (sucking CO2 out of the air with impressive efficiency). Bamboo straws are a low cost, aesthetically pleasing replacement for single-use straws. Buy them individually or in a pack, just follow the link below and search what you're looking for.
These bendy straws are a cheap compostable alternative to plastic. At just 22c a straw, you can cater your whole party with a pack of compostable Preserve straws and once you clean up the trash after your guests have left, put these straws into your personal backyard compost to break down into the Earth. Plus they have the flexibility to be used in medical scenarios.
The more expensive but classy option, glass straws come at a higher price point but are a great sustainable reusable product that lots of people love for keeping liquids cold all the way to the lips. While they could always be dropped or broken in transit, they're a beautiful option that could make a great gift. They come in a variety of shapes (and even colours), so you can shop around through the provided link.
Silicone is a great option for kids, travel and when you're having mobility issues. Bendy and positionable, brightly-coloured, and one of the cheaper options. It's a really safe option because it's teeth-safe (again for the kids or people with mobility concerns), doesn't conduct heat and is handy in transit because it won't shatter and can even be unscrewed to become smaller as the straws are composed of two parts that screw together. Plus, the hole always stays open (even if toddlers chew on them) allowing the user to continue to drink without assistance. And at the end of its life, silicone doesn't degrade in the same destructive way as petroleum-based plastics.
A popular option, and what I opted for. While not being the ideal option for kids or people with disabilities, steel straws have the widest range of widths, lengths and shapes. Whether you want to replace your bubble tea, cocktail or smoothie straws, they've got it. They come dead straight or with a bend. Stainless steel is pretty indestructible so can effectively last forever as a true zero waste one-time purchase, while still only starting from the price of $1.95. If it does become damaged or falls out of use, stainless steel is recyclable. They even come in rose gold!
Cleaning your straws is easy peasy. With just a $1.95 straw cleaner, you run the brush through the straw to check for stuck clumps, and run it under warm water, soak it or stick it in the dishwasher. These are light and cheap and can be carried everywhere your straw goes or can live at home on your sink with your other cleaning products.
Everywhere that sells straws these days sell pouches for hygienic and convenient transport of your straw. I carry mine in my travel cutlery kit, but a fabric pouch is a great option for keeping your straw away from anything you wouldn't want it rubbing against, and make it easy for families that carry multiple at once.
And that's a wrap on the straws! While the list of brands or kinds of straws isn't exhaustive, I hope if you haven't yet made the swap from single-use you've finally found something that appeals to you and you're willing to give a try.
Reading on the global shift away from our single-use straw habit: