For some time now, environmental awareness has been growing in our society and we are increasingly discovering that our small, everyday choices have a real impact on the environment, and thus on the state in which we leave it for future generations. One such small change that has been accompanying us for some time is the choice of straws other than the now discontinued plastic ones. Before the EU directive was introduced, around 3 million straws were used in Poland every day. It is therefore easy to imagine how enormous this scale was. We can now choose from a wide range of alternative straws. Certainly all of them are more environmentally friendly, but how to choose the best option for you? Here are some of the most popular substitutes.
Reusable straws – what should you know about them?
One of the proposed solutions are reusable glass straws. They fit perfectly into the “zero waste” ideology and will certainly be a good solution for use at home. It would be more difficult to use them outside the home or in catering, as they need to be washed thoroughly in the dishwasher or with a special cleaner after each use. Although they are made of sturdy glass and manufacturers assure that they are very durable, they are not recommended for children for safety reasons.
Very similar is the case with metal straws, they have quite a few advantages and are environmentally friendly. They can be cleaned quite easily and are durable, making them suitable for use for a long time. However, some users are bothered by the metallic aftertaste, which slightly changes the taste of the drink, and the fact that metal straws are only recommended for cold things. It is also worth bearing in mind that both glass and metal straws are quite stiff and care should be taken not to damage the palate if struck – especially when used by young children.
Reusable silicone straws have also appeared on the market. They come in a variety of colours, are quite soft and can be used for all types of drink. It is therefore also an interesting alternative, although some people complain that silicone is not a natural material, and because it can tarnish and change colour over time, straws made of it probably cannot be used as long as metal straws. This makes them not exactly eco-friendly.
Choosing reusable straws is certainly a responsible decision and one that is good for our environment, and it will probably find its adherents, especially among those looking for straws to use at home from time to time. But what if this form of substitute does not convince us?
Disposable but ecological straws
In addition to straws that can be used many times, there are (or rather have returned to the market) ecological straws that are disposable, such as paper or straw straw. Once popular, later replaced by plastic straws, they are now back in an improved version.
Paper straws are of course the most popular, and this is because they are cheap and readily available. They are used very often both at home and in the catering industry. The disadvantage is that they are not suitable for use in warm drinks, because they quickly soften and change the taste of the drink, while they last a little longer in cold drinks. Their eco-friendliness is also an issue, because although they are of course biodegradable and definitely safer for the environment than plastic ones, they are produced from paper, for the creation of which a lot of water and strong chemicals are used. So they are not without their impact on nature.
There are also organic pasta tubes available, which can be an interesting variety and can be eaten after use, so nothing is wasted. However, they do have a few limitations – they are quite fragile and will soften with a warm drink, plus they won’t be suitable for people with gluten allergies. Some people also notice a slight aftertaste when drinking through these straws.
A great alternative to plastic straws are straws made from straw, as the name suggests it all started with them, they were used for many years before plastic or paper straws came along. Today’s version is improved and although they are still handmade from rye, they later undergo a sterilisation process that makes them gluten-free. Straw straws are also completely biodegradable and their production does not have any negative impact on nature. They do not soak during use and do not alter the taste of the drink, and can be used not only at home, but also in the catering and hospitality industry. They are suitable for all drinks, they can be used for both cold and hot liquids, each one is unique and completely natural.
Although changing straws from plastic to ecological ones seems like a small thing, it is worth noting that this small step, which was initially controversial, started an important discussion about the impact of such small changes on the environment and made many people realise that with small gestures we can have a real impact on the ecosystem. So it’s worth being conscious and choosing wisely for the environment, while using great products tailored to our needs.