As I have said before, I live in Washington state. Although I live on the Eastern side of the state, I am about 4 hours from Seattle and if you have been watching the latest buzz about this city, you have probably heard about the recent ban on plastic straws. At first, I rejoiced. I am a lover of the ocean and since I know that the ocean and is being badly effected by our use of one time use plastics, I was applauding the effort to move towards a more sustainable future for the sea. And, while I am still happy with this change, a few things should be noted before I get into this reusable straw guide.
Why Banning Plastic Straws May Be a Challenge for Some and Why We Should Listen
It is incredibly important that we don’t alienate a very important part of the population- those that have disabilities that need to use plastic straws. If you are like me, your first thought was- why can’t they just use reusable ones? First, there are some problems with this that I was graciously schooled on by those in the community and those that care to educate those of us that aren’t. Cleaning these reusable straws can be too hard. Many folks that need these one time use straws don’t have the tactile ability or coordination to do it. (Let’s be honest, they aren’t easy to clean sometimes, especially for liquids like smoothies that can leave behind mess). Additionally, hot liquids cannot go through metal straws and this could lead to burns for those that are especially vulnerable and other alternatives such as pasta ones can be not friendly to allergies and there are texture issues with silicone, paper etc.. Finally, you may be thinking that if these folks need these straws, why can’t they just buy their own to bring? Many in this population are already carrying so much with them to go on a simple outing many able-bodied people take for granted and a lot of those in the community are on fixed incomes-one more thing to buy, or bring, however small, can place an extra burden on those friends and neighbors of ours.
My only hope is that with the push to ban plastic, more sustainable disposable options will come available. If you know of any great alternatives for those in the community, please let me know in the comments so I can add them to the list!
Why Banning Plastic Straws is Necessary for The Majority
I hope that these can be a solution for our friends in the differently-abled community, but for those of us that don’t need a straw other than a convenience, I do think it’s important we consider the impact of one time use plastics have on the environment. Americans use 500 million a day! Most of these end up in the stomachs of marine fish and birds as well as sea turtles. And, since plastic straws are really just for convenience for most people, and are hard to recycle due to how thin they are, they can be cut out and we can start to make a habit of using something else or something more sustainable. My hope is that this will change minds about the necessity of one time use plastic- that people will be more inclined to buy and use reusable water bottles, bags and more.
Alternatives to Plastic Straws
These alternatives are meant to offer something for those that can or desire to make the switch to a reusable or more sustainable option. I have also listed some disposable options that are better than standard plastic if you still want some or prefer them as well. As I am able to find more resources, I will list them here. Please keep in mind that this list is not a complete one. Also Keep in mind that I am sharing affiliate links and get a small commission if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you. Thanks for helping me keep churning out great content!
Try this ultra compact fold-able metal straw for on the go ease:
This pack of reusable straws includes a cleaning brush, and both silicone and metal straws:
If you really want to give stainless steel straws a try, this set of 4 with cleaning brush is budget friendly:
These reusable silicone straws are big enough for smoothies, too!:
For something completely natural and sustainable, try these Bamboo Straws:
I really love these Stainless steel straws with wooden cases for keeping things clean:
For a sustainable disposable option, try these straws made of wheat:
Again, I want to stress that we listen to those in the disabled community and don’t dismiss their very real concerns and needs, but that those of us who don’t need them will also campaign for better alternatives for them as well as a self-reflection on how we can cut our use.