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Pros and Cons of Using Reusable Straws

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

The evolution of the straw is a lot like clothing—ideas come back around, and the new generation thinks the items are an innovation.

Plastic straws are a more modern concept than most of us consider because, before plastic, paper straws were the only ones around. Now, many places that are trying to be planet-friendly are providing paper straws.

But are either paper or plastic straws really that earth-friendly?

Both options are disposable, creating waste, and although paper is easier to destroy than plastic, trees are destroyed in the process. Paper also has a different taste and disintegrates as you use it depending on the drink.

Thankfully, there are alternatives. Stainless-steel straws may be straw of the future. Discover why many of the top companies are starting to provide reusable stainless-steel straws.

Before getting into the pros and cons of reusable straws, let’s consider what they are made of and why.

Stainless-steel Straws

Stainless-steel straws are made with food-safe material called 304 stainless-steel. It is a grade of steel that resists oxidation and corrosion to make it safe for you to reuse. Another option is the 316L medical grade stainless-steel straw. The medical grade steel for straws will not scratch as easily and is more heat resistant than the lower grade steel.

Glass Straws

Glass can be quite tough depending on the manufacturer. Glass straws are made to be chip and shatterproof, which also helps the straws resist heat.

Titanium Straws

Titanium is becoming more popular, but like many other titanium products, they are more expensive. In the long term, titanium holds up better than stainless-steel or glass.

Bamboo Straws

Bamboo straws, like chopsticks, are highly popular, and despite what we might have been taught in school, there are many types of bamboo plants in the world. Made from the more prolific bamboo plant, these straws can be used over an extended period of time if properly cared for. The downside is they cannot remain wet for long and need to be dried correctly to avoid molding.

Pros of the Reusable Straw

  • Reusable straws eliminate waste. The stainless-steel straw or glass straw is something you can wash, reuse multiple times, and you don’t have to clutter your trash with it.

  • Using reusable straws allows you to help animals. If anyone has seen videos of sea turtles or dolphins dying from plastic straws and other plastic items, then you know how harmful plastic can be to our marine system. Birds and land mammals die just as easily from plastic that is ingested.

  • Reusable straws create less pollution in terms of trash. The fewer straws used and disposed of the less pollution from the waste is generated.

  • You also have the option of carrying your straw with you wherever you go. You can use it on hikes, at home, at restaurants, and you don’t have to feel bad for wanting a straw because it is reusable.

  • There is more than one type of reusable straw, and you can choose the one that best fits what you drink, such as cold beverages versus hot coffee.

  • Each type of reusable straw has its rewards with regards to cleaning and longevity.

Cons of Reusable Straws

  • You need to carry it with you.

  • They are not free.

  • The straws require cleaning and a unique cleaning tool.

  • Some types of reusable straws are less heat resistant.

The pros of reusable straws outweigh the cons; especially, when you consider, there are choices in the reusable straw department. You don’t have to choose stainless steel straws, particularly if you find there is a metallic edge to the taste of your drink.

Glass is one of the better choices for clarity. You can see through the straw, so you know you have cleaned it to the best of your ability, whereas the metal and bamboo straws do not allow you to see inside.

Bamboo can be reused more than plastic or paper, and it is the most heat resistant option on the market. The cleaning and drying process is a bit more involved, though.

As for titanium, they look cool, they are more expensive, and they are similar to steel with regards to heat and cleaning.

If you want to lower your carbon footprint, a reusable straw is the way to go. The more aware you become of how wasteful plastic and paper can be, you can do something towards a better future for the earth and generations to come.

Reusable Straw Care

Companies are selling reusable straws with cleaning devices, which are long brushes that fit inside the straw. You definitely need a brush to get inside the straw, even if you run it through the dishwasher at a higher temperature, you’ll still want to use a brush. You’ll also want to make sure no food is stuck inside the straw before it goes through the dishwasher because afterward, the food will be dried on and more difficult to remove.

Choose your reusable straw based on the type of drinks you like to ensure the easiest care. Smoothies are best with a glass straw because you can see the particles, while you might find bamboo is best for the hot drinks you like during the winter months.

Make sure to read the instructions that come with your straw about cleaning to ensure you can run the straw through the dishwasher and how to dry it.

Reusable straws come in at least four different materials, which ensures you can choose the one that best fits you and your drinking needs. The pros outweigh the cons not only because of pollution, waste, and saving more trees and animals, but because you have materials that do not degrade while you use them.

The expense of a reusable straw compared to throwing out trillions of straws a year is actually one of the pros of reusable straws, rather than a con when you think about how important the earth and all of its inhabitants are.

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