Aug 25th, 21

0 min read

Alternatives To Plastic Straws: A Definitive Guide

By Arivu Ajay

Soda, smoothie, and iced coffee: What is one thing each of these drinks has in common? People use plastic straws to drink them. It's just a little piece of plastic, you think, not a big deal, right?

According to Eco Cycle, each day there are more than 500 million plastic straws consumed in the United States alone. It's not so much “a little piece of plastic" now, is it? There are 8-12 million tons of plastic released into the ocean. One common item found was the plastic straw. It is clear that something must be done to limit this problem.

As you may already know, the fight against plastic straws is slow-going. As an average individual, what can you and I do to contribute to this fight? The optimal way would be to stop using straws altogether, but straw drinking has become such a habit for many of us. With this understanding, EQUO offers high-quality alternatives to plastic straws. We divide these options into 4 groups:
  • Natural straws
  • Reusable straws
  • Biodegradable straws
  • Edible straws
The first alternative to plastic straws is natural straws. These types of biodegradable straws come directly from nature and don’t need to be manufactured! Here are a couple of options:

Papaya Leaf Stem Straws

You read that right! We are talking about real papaya leaves from papaya trees. When papaya leaves come to the end of their life-cycle, they change their color into yellow and fall on the ground. Stalks taken from these leaves can then be used as straws. The inner diameter is much larger than a common single-use straw and is suitable for drinking smoothies, milkshakes, and bubble tea. If you are lucky to live near the area growing papaya trees, this would be a wonderful plastic straw alternatives to choose.

papaya leaf stem straws - alternatives to plastic straws

Bamboo Straws

Conventional (plastic) straws not only affect your health but also fill the earth with excess waste. Why don't we start to use bamboo straws? This biodegradable straw is 100% handmade, contains no chemicals, and is dishwasher safe.
With nearly unlimited resources (bamboo is known for its fast growth) and compostable in a relatively short amount of time, these environmentally friendly straws can become a new hero in the fight against plastic. Using bamboo straws will, however, require you to carry around a brush to fight bacteria growth and mold as they can easily trap moisture.

bamboo straws

>> Read More: 5 Best Compostable Straws On The Market

Biodegradable Paper Straws

Biodegradable straws break down completely into nature without harming the environment. When such straws end their life in the ground, on the beach or at sea, fungus or bacteria will contribute to rapid decomposition breaking them into their natural components. Different materials will have a specific processing time. Some just need a few weeks, while others can take months, but they are all more favorable to mother nature than the traditional plastic straw. 

From the beginning of the fight against plastics, conservationists preferred using paper straws as a prime alternative to plastic straws. Paper straws are cheap and friendly to the environment. Yet, they are quickly soggy in liquid and, if you are a slow drinker like me, they can become very annoying!
On the plus side, they have various patterns, sizes, and colors. Paper straws are now available in many convenient stores and supermarkets. If paper straws are your thing, you’ll have plenty of fun options!

paper straws

Wild Grass Straws

Though this idea is not completely new, we have Mr. Tran Minh Tien to thank for bringing Vietnam grass straws back into the spotlight. This kind of straw is made of grey sage which only grows in the Mekong Delta. The stem of grey sage grass is tall and stiff making it the perfect straw! One little tip for our customers: before using, boil them with a pinch of salt to extend the life of the grass straw. Generally, wild grass straws are one-time use only but can be reused without problems.
>> Read More:

Reusable Straws Made From Steel, Silicone, Glass

The materials to make these types of sustainable straws can vary widely. They can be made from stainless steel, silicone, glass, or other substances. Different materials will have different prices, and the price is often quite higher than natural straws or plastic straws. However, you can keep using it again without it disintegrating in water. Just prepare yourself with a brush tool and make sure to wash it and store it in a dry place. One benefit is that most reusable straws can be recycled.

Among those materials, stainless steel is the most popular because of the low cost and durability. Glass straws require delicate use, are temperature sensitive, and are not safe in dishwashers. Silicon may last for a lifetime, however, silicon straws are an ideal place for mold growth as moisture becomes trapped.
>> Read More:

Biodegradable Wheat Straws

This is another smart and environmentally-savvy alternative to plastic straws. Why do we say so? Check out these awesome benefits:
  • Strong, tall and stiff
  • Safe in the microwave and refrigerator
  • Can be used for hot drinks (up to 200 degrees F)
  • Chemical-free
  • No effect on taste
  • Compostable within 6 months
  • Helps the local economy
On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks to wheat straws. These include:
  • Limited to one diameter size
  • May be difficult to use with smoothies, boba, etc.
  • an have a strong straw smell

Edible Rice Straws

The creativity never stops in our society. Using technology and some creative flavor - the edible straw was invented. After finishing your drink, take a bite out of the straw. Who wouldn’t want a pleasant taste coming from their straw? Although there are many items on this list, we chose 3 significant ones to introduce today.
Vietnam is known for its agricultural culture and is a top 3 exporter of rice worldwide. So it comes as no surprise at all that in 2018 a Vietnamese company created edible straws made from rice. The product included 80% rice flour while the remaining 20% is a combination of tapioca and wheat flour. Although this compostable straw is mainly rice flour, it doesn’t have to look monotonous. Plant colours (sesame seed, spinach, beetroot) are mixed in to add an interesting look. Rice straws can be stored for 18 months at room temperature and kept in liquids up to 2 hours.

Pasta Straws

Pasta straws have been gaining some traction over the last few years. They are made of simply wheat and water so they decompose quite quickly. They also don’t add taste to your drink and they hold their shape for long periods of time - especially in cold drinks. A few problems that exist with pasta straws include cost, current size limitation, and traditionally they are not gluten free.

Sugar Straws

As Vietnam is to the rice straw so is Spain to the sugar straw. In 2014, a Spanish bartender came up with the Sobors drinking straws with various flavors, like cinnamon, lime, ginger, and chocolate. The colder the beverage is, the longer these straws can stay solid. While sugar straws don’t last as long as some of the other alternatives mentioned, they can go up to 25 minutes without affecting the drink’s taste! They are 100% compostable within hours. After opening the box, customers can keep straws up to 2 years. These plant-based compostable straws are not great for those who have diabetes and the sugar can add unwanted calories to your drink. Keep these in mind as you determine if sugar straws will be a good fit for you.

EQUO hopes the list above can start to help you choose some sustainable alternatives to plastic straws that work best for you. At EQUO, we know that small solutions can have a big impact.

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