Nov 11, 2022 | Samuel Albert

Pros And Cons Of Different Straws That Help In Deciding Which One You Should Use

For something as simple as straws, you'll be amazed to see the straw options that are literally strewed over. Since plastic straws (the first of a kind) littered the land and water alike, much thought has been given to their environmental effects. As a result, many different types of straws are now available to choose from to sip our drinks. Welcome to the world of straws!

Photo by YesMore Content on Unsplash

Forgoing plastic straws is a choice anyone would make who cares for the planet. Instead, opt for metal, silicone, bamboo, or glass straws if using reusable straws. A few single-use straw options are paper, rice, and wheat straws, which are biodegradable. 

Sipping your drink from single-use straws is still a sought-after option in terms of comfort. And I am pretty impressed to see many degradable options available. But, on the other hand, reusable straws work well for eco-friendly people (or frequent straw users) who are well-informed about the detrimental effects of plastic straws on the environment.

Let's dive a little deeper into the subject of straws, so you can pick the one that suits you the best. 

1. What Are The Pros and Cons Of Single-Use Straws?

Pros of Single-Use Straws:

  • Clean: Hygienic option as they are disposed of immediately after use.
  • Handy: Easy and convenient to use.
  • Necessary: Suitable for individuals with disabilities and medical conditions who cannot do without it.   

Cons of Single-Use Straws:

  • Consumption of Non-Renewable Resources: Manufacturing single-use straws depletes our exhaustible resources and also uses up our natural resources to a large extent.  
  • Pollution: Using plastic straws contributes to the pollution of the environment with destructive effects on the health of humans, marine life, and wildlife.
  • Added Cost: Single-use straws are an added cost to the beverage outlets and restaurants that provide them to their customers for free.

2. What Are The Pros And Cons of Eco-Friendly Straws?

Photo by Ana Lucia Cottone on Unsplash

Pros of Eco-Friendly Straws:

  • Environmental Effect: Eco-friendly straws are the rage these days. With many popular options like stainless steel, glass, and bamboo straws, these reusable options are a great relief as they are the ultimate solution to the plastic straw pollution problem.
  • Versatile: Since they are available in different shapes, materials, and sizes, they meet our choices and needs effectively.    
  • Durable: Though these straws are costly, their durability and reusability are matchless, making them a worthwhile investment.

Cons of Eco-Friendly Straws:

  • Cost: Though it is a one-time investment, it is still considered pricey as not everyone cares about the environment or can afford it.
  • Care and Maintenance: Though it is reusable, you need to make sure it is impeccably clean before its next use and need to store it that way. This extra care may be inconvenient for some people.
  • Accessibility: Eco-friendly straws may not be widely available, so you must carry your own wherever you go.

3. What Are The Pros And Cons Of Recyclable Straws?

Plastic straws are technically recyclable, but because of their small size, they always fall out of the sorting machine and thus are deemed non-recyclable.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Pros of Recyclable Straws:

  • Environmental Impact: Recyclable metal straws like stainless steel are 100% recyclable at any point in their lives, so it is clearly an eco-friendly and sustainable option.

Cons of Recyclable Straws:

  • Due to their sparse availability, you must carry yours everywhere if you want to use recyclable straws.
  • They are not free like paper or plastic straws.
  • Cleaning after every use is a must, so you should carry the small cleaning tool along too, but this also depends on what you use your straw to drink.  

4. Which Straw Is Right for Me?

If you're looking for that PERFECT straw that would cause no harm to the environment so you can have fun sipping your favorite beverage without any guilt-tripping, you have come to the right place. Finally, you can choose one whose benefits outweigh its drawbacks.

Plastic straws are free and come along with whatever drink you have ordered (unless you prefer otherwise). But unfortunately, they're not biodegradable, will pollute the environment, and have already done massive damage.

Paper straws are relatively affordable and easy to find but can get squishy quickly. The good news is that they are easily degradable and don't fill landfills or harm the ecosystem. Just make sure your paper straws are not plastic coated.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Look out for rice-tapioca or wheat-stem straws, which are eco-friendly and readily degradable. Unfortunately, since they are made of natural materials, they don't withstand heat or pressure for long and give way after some time.

Bamboo straws are more sustainable but are often more expensive than plastic or paper straws, and you don't commonly find them. However, if your shopkeeper has these, you can always choose these instead of plastic. 

PLA straws - There is much hype about PLA straws being biodegradable, blah, blah, blah, but did you know that these straws can't be composted under natural conditions and end up in the landfills just like plastic - they look like plastic too! They require industrial composting sites that are qualified to compost these, which are only a little over 100. So, beware of these ones.

Silicone straws are reusable, flexible, and won't break down over time, but they're less widely available than other types of straws. Also, they can retain moisture and food particles on the insides, turning them into a breeding ground for microbes. So, remember to wash and dry them out very well after each use.

Glass straws are reusable and environmentally friendly. It is a myth that they are breakable as they are made tough enough to withstand even a bite. But they can be more expensive than plastic or paper straws. On the other hand, they are transparent, which is advantageous from a hygiene point of view. An added benefit is they don't budge for hot or cold drinks. 

Metal straws are durable and easy to clean, but they can get really HOT! Plus, they can be initially an expensive option. However, they are great for recycling. 

So, which type of straw is right for YOU? Now, the ball is in your court!

Consider your unique needs and preferences when making your decision. Whatever you choose, just remember that your straw should be either recyclable or reusable so it doesn't hurt the environment.

5. Why Can't We Recycle Plastic Straws?

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Though they are made of recyclable plastic, plastic straws pose a massive problem when it needs to be recycled. Because of their small size and lightweight, they fall through the conveyor belt of the sorting machine and end up in landfills rather than getting recycled.

Also, the sweet sticky liquid on the plastic straws makes the detected plastic straws go straight into landfills.

Moreover, because plastic is of low grade, the recycled new products will soon deteriorate and find their way to landfills.

Therefore, we need to find a better way to recycle plastic straws so they don't end up taking over our landfills!

One crucial suggestion would be to collect all the plastic straws into a PET bottle and close the cap before putting them into the recycle bin. This way, all the plastic straws will stay inside the bottle and can reach the recycling plant without getting lost along the way.

Tags: Straws

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