It's very clear that plastic does not mean fantastic but which reusable straw is best for you? Between bamboo straws, grass straws, paper straws, metal straws, and more, it can be confusing.
There are a lot of options available but each has its own pros and cons. So if you’re in the market for a plastic-free alternative, we’ve done the hard work and compiled everything you need to know to work out which straws are super and which ones just suck!
There's no hiding it, we think glass is great. The straws are completely reusable and because the material is non-porous it won't impart any flavour on your drink. It's also see-through, so you can easily spot any parts that need an extra scrub. One obvious downside is durability. They are much easier to break than other options and drinking glass isn’t high on our bucket list! Another important consideration is that because glass is a great insulator, hot drinks can make it too hot to touch and cold drinks can be a chilly proposition.
Paper straws are so far the most widely accepted replacement for plastic. They're cheap, customisable and look good, but that’s about where the benefits stop. Everyone that has sipped more than a handful of times on a paper straw are in a race against time until it disolves into a soggy mess.
Still, even though they are single-use they are a far better option than plastic and can still be sustainable if the raw materials are correctly sourced.
Steel straws are durable and will easily last a lifetime, most likely more! Should you choose to switch-up though, they are completely recyclable and can easily be repurposed for a second life. They are also simple to clean (though not see-through like glass).
Steel does, however, have a few downsides. Because metal is a conductor, the temperature of your beverage will quickly transfer to your straw. The taste of metal can also affect the flavour of your drink, even after many washes. Finally, many people also find the feeling of metal on teeth unenjoyable, so if you’re sensitive it’s best to avoid.
Another contender of the throne is wheat straws. Made from the leftover stem of the plant they are 100% natural and therefore biodegradable. They are also a natural byproduct of wheat farming so that’s another plus! Unfortunately, they are not very durable and prone to tear or rupture. Wheat straws are also single-use, so while these straws can be sustainably harvested, their disposable nature means more emissions through recurring transport and processing.
This straw has a lot going for it. It is flexible and pretty much impossible to break (we're looking at you, chewers!). It's heat and cold resistant, making it perfect for any temperature of beverage. And it can be easily cut if you’re looking for a cocktail straw substitute.
It all looks so good except for the fact that silicone is not biodegradable. They'll outlast you, making them an only slightly better option than single-use plastic straws.
The new kid on the block, pasta straws are quickly emerging as a popular alternative to plastics. Unlike normal pasta, they are only made from wheat and water (no egg) and can be created in any size needed. They are also completely biodegradable. BUT, again (like wheat and paper) these straws are only single-use. For obvious reasons, they don’t work very well with hot beverages, but they do fair well when drinking milkshakes or thick shakes. Another bonus, if you’re feeling a bit peckish afterwards they are 100% edible.
It's no surprise that bamboo is best in our mind. These straws are all natural, biodegradable and most importantly reusable. They are almost a straight switch from plastic as they don’t affect the taste of the drink and are customisable with different widths and lengths available.
They also fare well with hot and cold drinks as they won’t conduct the temperature. While one straw won’t last a lifetime, each one has a shelf life of about 1-2 years of regular use and will then return to the earth at the end of their life cycle. Not to mention they look pretty cool too! The future is bright - the future is bamboo!