Sustainable straws offer great alternative to plastic straws

Ken Hoyt, Staff Writer

When single-use plastic breaks down, it releases harmful chemicals into the environment. These chemicals are dangerous to animals, plants, and human beings. They break down into tiny pieces called microplastics which a study published in May of 2022 found to have entered our bloodstream. 

While plastic straws make up only a small percentage of plastic pollution, plastic reduction at any degree makes an impact. They are a common form of unnecessary pollution, so I decided to assess three alternatives in order to see which sustainable straw is the best for the consumer. 


How long it lasts: ⭐

How easy it is to clean/reuse:⭐

Overall enjoyment using: ⭐

A paper straw is better than a single-use plastic straw because plastic is very unsustainable. Paper straws last only a few hours before they start to get difficult to use. The overall experience is unpleasant—they taste like cardboard and mushy paper is unsurprisingly gross to drink out of. They are also single-use (something that should be avoided when possible) and while they can decompose in a matter of weeks, they will probably end up thrown in the trash leading to a landfill which is designed for nothing to decompose. On the other hand, if it does end up in the ocean, it will be able to disintegrate and be less harmful to marine life than plastic. Next time your paper straw gets soggy, uplift yourself by thinking about how happy all the cute fish are. 


Metal (Stainless Steel)

How long it lasts: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

How easy it is to clean/reuse: ⭐⭐⭐

Overall enjoyment using: ⭐⭐

Metal straws are much better than paper straws for a variety of reasons. They are difficult to damage and can last a lifetime if cleaned properly. While they are easy to clean, I don’t like how you can’t see through them, leaving you unaware of how thoroughly clean your straw is. Also, if your beverage is iced, the ice will make the straw cold, which I personally find unpleasant. Another downside to metal straws is they have a tendency to clink against teeth. The best part about metal straws is they are 100% recyclable at the end of their life and still a great option for sustainable drinking.


Glass ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

How easily it gets damaged: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

How easy it is to clean/reuse:⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Overall enjoyment using:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Glass straws are by far my favorite. Most are very break resistant, but some will break just like other glass foodware. I have found a brand that is near impossible to break and has options for fun designs. They have made sustainability and plastic reduction into an art form. Unfortunately, glass straws are usually made of borosilicate which is shatter-proof, heat-resistant, and dishwasher safe…but  not recyclable. However, because they last a lifetime and cleaning is simple, the recycling factor is not as important. Also, they can be hand washed the same way metal straws are, but this time you will be able to see the inside of what you are cleaning, resulting in a better clean. They can be used in hot liquids, remain at room temperature, and work wonders on the impact of plastic waste.