It is no secret that straws aren't the BEST for the environment. They're made of a plastic that can't be recycled, causing them to be added to the giant plastic island floating off the coast of Hawaii. This news has made people more aware of their straw use and people are now looking for ways to reduce their straw use.
1. Ask for no straws at restaurants and bars.
A bar in Portland no longer provides plastic straws, but will gladly give you a paper one.
Eater, Portland, Oregon
The number one place we use straws is at restaurants and bars. Most of the time, they'll put a straw in your drink before they give it to you and you use it without thinking. So, when you order a drink when you're out, politely ask for it without a straw. Or, if they go to place straws on your table, just say that you won't need them. But don't stress if they accidentally give you a straw.
2. Take unused straws with you.
Positive change for Marine Life
Most restaurants will throw out unused straws (even if they're still in the paper wrapping) so it's best to throw it in your bag and take it home with you.
3. Throw them away (don't recycle them).
Plastic straws aren't biodegradable, and will stay on this planet for hundreds of years.
Dave Suzuki Foundation
Plastic straws aren't recyclable (yet), so your best bet is to throw them away. They are too small to make it through the machines at recycling plants and tend to slip through the cracks, causing cities thousands of dollars in repairs. So, although your first thought is to recycle every piece of plastic you have, skip the straws and toss them in the bin.
4. Skip straws at the picnic.
Just a small collection of some of the straws that wash up on beaches.
FLOW: For the Love of Water
On a nice summer day, when you're planning your beach picnic, skip the straws. Light plastic is notorious for flying away with the wind and, when you're outside, the last thing you want to do is lose plastic that can harm wildlife. Even if you do throw away your straws, there's no saying what tiny creature can get into the trash can and find it. So, if you're planning a picnic, I would opt for a strawless day.
5. Try and use them in creative ways.
Many people find themselves with a ton of unused plastic straws, but they're afraid to use them because they don't want to throw them away. If you're one of those people, try turning your old straws into some nice straw art.
6. Opt for metal.
Zero Waste Saigon
If you are a straw lover, have no fear, there are other options. Metal straws are a great option and can be bought online for relatively cheap. They're great for bringing with you to avoid using plastic straws when eating out and are easy to clean, as most of them come with cleaning brushes.
7. Or silicone...
Little Earth Nest
There are also silicone straws that you can buy in most grocery stores. These also tend to come with cleaning brushes, but I think that they're a little harder to get totally clean sometimes, but they are way better than metal straws for things like milkshakes and smoothies as they tend to be a bit wider.
8. Or paper.
If you are in the need of disposable straws, paper straws are your best bet. Most of them are made out of recyclable paper coated in beeswax, meaning they hold up well in drinks, but can also be recycled. You can find them online year round, but they are most prevalent in stores during the summer, so I would stock up when you see them.
9. Find stores that are straw-free.
Starbuck's new strawless lids.
Some straw-heavy place, like Starbucks, have turned to straw-free options and more places are looking into how to reduce their straw use. If you're really serious about living a straw-free life, seek out these places so you don't even have to worry about asking for a drink without a straw.
10. Don't beat yourself up about it.
You can't always avoid using plastic straws, so, if you do find yourself drinking from one, don't beat yourself up over it. Just remember to dispose of it properly when you're done.
So, if you are looking to become part of the Straw-Free Generation, all you have to do is be more aware of how our use of straws is affecting the environment and how we can reduce our use of straws.