Reusable Straws Won't Save the Planet. Buy One Anyway.
Our five favorite slurpers range from metal to silicone
A few months ago, I got on the topic of climate change with a friend. He demurred, not wanting to discuss global upheaval before 9 a.m., but he said not to worry, he had bought a metal straw. Obviously, he was taking the environment very seriously.
I don’t know who still needs to hear this, because we are now over a year out from the great straw purge of 2018, but your reusable straw will not save the planet — or rather, it won’t save the future of human and animal species on this planet. You are not the next Greta Thunberg by sipping a Starbucks Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew with a metal slurper. You might, depending on how you use it, actually be creating more pollution in the process.
Sorry to burst those bubbles you’re blowing from your silicone straw into your iced oat milk latte. But this is probably something you’ve heard before. The environmentalism of yesteryear focused on the individual, through things like composting, veganism and second-hand clothing. The environmentalism of today, in the face of the climate crisis, is focused on systemic change over personal choices, which are not always attainable or effective. Your single decision to buy a Tesla, institute Meatless Mondays or forego single-use straws will not have any noticeable impact.
You should still buy and use a reusable straw.
Wait, what? I thought you just said — Yes, I’m well aware of what I just said. We find ourselves in a polarizing time, where issues that are unequivocally grey are presented as black and white, and that includes straws. No, one reusable straw won’t save all the sea turtles from torture by plastic. But not taking any personal responsibility for your environmentally destructive consumer habits won’t help, either. And yes, paper straws, while potentially better than plastic, are still single use and turn every beverage into a chugging contest.
So what is a person to do? Check out the reusable straw options below. If you make a serious effort to bring one with you — in your work bag, pocket or purse — and use it every time you would normally use a single-use straw, you will have an unequivocally net-positive impact on the planet.
But more important than that, a reusable straw should be the beginning of a conversation, not the end. By consciously carrying it around, you will begin to notice the unnecessary waste you create every day, even in situations where you never saw it before, and hopefully that will lead you to becoming more environmentally conscious in all aspects of your life, from the personal to the systemic.
Our 5 Favorite Reusable Straws
United By Blue Reusable Straw Kit
For every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways — so they’re in the fight against pollution, straws or not. This kit includes two stainless steel straws, angled silicone tip, cleaning brush and ripstop case.
GoSili Silicone Straws (Pack of 6)
If you’re wary of metal, and especially if you want something safer for your children, these silicone options are durable and dishwasher safe.
Klean Kanteen 5-Piece Straw Set
A more economical option than United By Blue, with four stainless steel straws, silicone tips and a cleaning brush.
Five Two Silicone Straws (Pack of 10)
This is the ultimate pack for evangelizing: ten straws, four travel cases and four cleaning utensils. We love Food52’s entire line of kitchen gear, and these are no different, made from BPA- & BPS-free platinum-grade silicone, dishwasher safe and, of course, finished in cool colors.
Jose Cuervo Agave Straws
OK, so these aren’t actually available to buy, but you’ll probably see them at a bar or restaurant near you this year. Jose Cuervo developed first-of-their-kind biodegradable agave-based straws, and while they’re still disposable, this is the kind of innovation we need to see more of in the future.
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