What is the Best Type of Eco-friendly Straw? The Ultimate Guide

“It’s just one straw, said 8 billion people”, says the famous phrase, which inspires people to look for eco-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic straws. Indeed, a plastic straw may look small, inconspicuous, and seem to make no real harm to our environment. But the truth is that the tiny straw is non-biodegradable and takes even 500 years to decompose! Meaning that every single piece of plastic you ever used in your life still exists… Now imagine that only in the United States, according to National Geographic, more than 100 million disposable plastic straws are used daily! They end up in landfills and oceans, harm sea animals, and eventually break down into ubiquitous microplastics.
Luckily there is something even you can do about the global plastic waste problem. Even if it might seem troublesome at first, reducing the amount of plastic you use every day is simpler than you think. Plastic may be all around us now, but It hasn’t always been like this. I believe a more Eco-friendly substitute for every single-use plastic item can be found. There are many ways you can make a difference, from simply bringing your own bag for shopping, getting a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, to avoiding disposable plastic cutlery and straws and choosing their reusable alternatives! So today, let’s take a closer look on the types of eco straws available and what are their pros and cons.


1. Metal Straws


Metal straws have become popular recently, they are the most durable option. Made of food-grade stainless steel, which is unbreakable, will not rust, crack, or be scratched. In fact, a metal straw can be used for a lifetime, replacing thousands of single-use ones. It is easy to clean, you can even toss it into the dishwasher! Even so, they often come with their own cleaning brush, making them a very hygienic option. Thanks to their durability, they are great for taking along with you for travels and eating outside. They come In various colors, can be also made of titanium. Disadvantages? It May have a slight metallic taste and clank against the teeth, but both of these can be avoided by using a silicone straw tip. Also, you need to be careful to not burn yourself if you put a stainless steel straw in a hot drink, cause metal is a great conductor of heat. Fortunately, we don’t often use straws for hot drinks, do we?

+ Reusable
+ Extremely Durable
+ Dishwasher Safe
+ Recyclable
- Can be pokey
- Slight metallic taste

 

2. Glass Straw


Elegant and beautiful Glass Straws are the fanciest option. They come In various vibrant colors and designs. Glass is a 100% recyclable material and is made from natural ingredients like sand, so does minimal harm to the environment even when not recycled. Glass straws are generally sturdy, but there is always a risk of smashing, so they are not the best option for kids and are more suited to use at home than on travels. The advantage is that you can clearly see how clean the inside is and are typically dishwasher safe, which makes them a very hygienic option. Overall if you like it classy or just want to delight your guests, they will be perfect for smoothies, cocktails, and home parties.

+ Reusable
+ Durable
+ Stylish look
+ Tasteless
+ Dishwasher Safe
+ Recyclable
- Might break


3. Bamboo Straws


Bamboo is a natural, biodegradable, and very sustainable material. Organic and plant-based Bamboo Straws make an amazing Eco-friendly option. Bamboo is also very durable and has natural scientifically proven antibacterial properties, which make them more hygienic than it seems. Also Bamboo Straw is good for cold and hot drinks, cause it doesn’t transfer heat as much as metal or glass. Bamboo straws are hardy enough to use for a long time, even for over a year, but you have to wash and dry them properly, otherwise, they could get moldy. Luckily, the discarded Bamboo straw will cause no harm to the environment, so you don’t have to worry about it. Though some users complain about a slightly woody taste, I don’t.

+ Reusable
+ Durable
+ Highly Sustainable
+ Natural & Biodegradable
+ Naturally Anti-bacterial
- Hand wash only
- Slight woody taste



4. Wheat Straws



Drinking Straws made of Wheat Straw, also called Hay Straw is nothing else but just a natural piece of wheat stem. This makes them a totally natural and biodegradable product. Sadly, they are not as durable as previously discussed reusable straws. Actually, wheat straws are rather single-use, they will break if you pinch them too hard. It is just a piece of natural straw after all. But on the other hand, they don’t absorb water, so won’t ever get soggy (like paper straws) and their natural structure makes them soft, smooth, shiny, and completely tasteless. They actually feel just like plastic, but are made from a naturally biodegradable and renewable resource, without harming the environment. Their single-usage doesn’t have to be a disadvantage too if you realize it is actually a very hygienic option and you no need to worry about cleaning.

+ Single-use
+ Sustainable Resource
+ Natural & Biodegradable
+ Tasteless
-  Fragile



5. Rice Straws


Recently invented straws made of rice are a hyper Eco-friendly option, because they are not only organic, compostable, and biodegradable, but can even be eaten! They decompose in only 90 days and if you choose to eat them, they can be quite tasty (and if not you, try to feed your fish, they should love them). Even so, Rice Straws don’t affect the taste of drinks and don’t get soggy easily in cold drinks. They will lose their shape in about 1-2 hours. I wouldn’t recommend them for hot drinks, because you would only have 15-20 minutes before they soften unless you want to eat them as a rice noodle. They come in pretty natural colors. They are another single-use option, making no harm at all to land and oceans.

+ Single-use
+ Sustainable Resource
+ Natural & Biodegradable
+ Edible
+ Don’t affect drink’s taste
- No good for long use


6. Silicone Straws


Very soft and flexible straws. Silicone is a better option than plastic because it’s long-lasting (which means reusable) and it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. While plastics break down into dangerous and ubiquitous microplastics, silicone doesn't break down much at all, leaving less impact on the environment. It is heat resistant and dishwasher safe. Silicone straws are not poky and soft, which makes them a very good option for kids (they are resistant to biting too!). However, many people find them to be too flimsy and rubbery for comfortable drinking.

+ Reusable
+ Durable
+ Tasteless
+ Dishwasher Safe
- Flimsy
- Difficult to Recycle


7. Paper Straws


Recently a popular alternative for widely used single-use plastic straws by companies. Paper is of course better than plastic because it is biodegradable. Single-use means hygienic and no washing required, but I find paper straw’s lack of durability is just annoying. They absorb water and soften quickly, also the mouth-feel of wet paper isn’t pleasant as well.

+ Single-use
+ Biodegradable
- Soften easily
- Paper taste