Eight sustainable or reusable alternatives to disposable plastic straws

reusable alternatives to disposable drinking straws


I was cleaning out my bunnies today and topped up their bedroom with clean straw.

As I was walking to the compost heap with the old bedding I started thinking about straw, then drinking straws and before I knew it, I was thinking about those pesky disposable plastic straws again.

Thanks to David Attenborough, every man and his, erm, bunny, is now talking about the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ and has become more aware of some of the devastating consequences that our discarded plastics are having on wildlife and the environment.

So back to bunny straw and drinking straws – could there possibly be something in the name?

Turns out there is!

I’ve been talking about glass and stainless steel straws for some time, and it turns out reusable straws are catching on. I’ve come up with no less than eight different types of straw. I’d love to know if you would add any more to the list and if you’d come across these.

I will begin by going on record to say that, unless you have a condition which dictates you need a straw, then in all honesty, I don’t really know why they are such a thing. Can’t we just pick up our cups and bottles and drink from them?

Having said that, they ARE a thing, evidently, as it’s estimated we suck our way through 8.5 billion straws per year in the UK. Crazy I say, but if they float your boat, please suck responsibly.

So without further ado, here are eight alternatives to plastic disposable straws: Edit. I will keep adding to this post as and when I find other alternatives. To date there are now NINE alternatives to disposable plastic straws!

Glass straws

Glass straws were the first ‘reusable straws’ I ever came across. Personally they scare me a bit (that might be due to an old memory of when my Mum told me that as a child, she’d had an injection for dental work and ended up biting a glass!) But the beauty of glass straws is you can clean / sterilise them really well. They’re also kind of classy, right?

Stainless steel

The next straws I heard about were made from stainless steel. These are more appealing to me – they feel safer, can still be cleaned with boiling water and don’t impart a taste. What’s not to love?

Paper straws

Although not reusable, I found paper straws in a store a couple of years ago and thought they provided a reasonable solution to once-use plastics as long as they are composted. The ones I saw did still come in a plastic box (I guess it’s imperative they are kept dry in transit), but they are a good alternative for people dipping their toe into a zero waste lifestyle and the ones I saw were in pretty stripey colours too – so appealing for children. Do they go soggy after a while? Do tell me!

Silicone straws

I most recently came across silicone straws. I don’t know much about silicone, apart from the fact it’s supposed to be a wonder non-stick material. I have some silicone cup cake moulds, but that’s as far as my relationship with silicone goes. Again, silicone can withstand high temperatures, so cleaning a silicone straw should be a doddle and they come in funky colours too. Whilst not that eco friendly in manufacturer or disposal, they are at least reusable.

Bamboo straws

As long as we’re not depriving a panda of its favourite snack (and breakfast, and lunch and dinner – did you know pandas eat a mono diet of bamboo?), then bamboo straws can be composted after use. I believe they are designed to be reused and not disposed of, though I’m not sure how you would get them hygienically clean (having said that I read once that bamboo was naturally antibacterial, so perhaps they are self cleaning)

Pasta straws

Yep, you read that right. So I was thinking about penne pasta and cannelloni and marvelling about its wonderful hollow shape when, hey presto, I discovered that pasta straws were indeed available to purchase! Now wouldn’t that be a fun ‘make your own’ project! Just don’t put them in a hot drink, or you might end up with thick soup! I guess you can cook and eat your pasta straw after use. An edible straw – I like it!

Straw straws

During the summer, do you like to find the thick, hollow stems of grass and chew them? It’s great isn’t it? This is where my idea about ‘straw straws’ began when cleaning out my bunnies. And on my travels around the internet I have found a company who sell straws made from straw (straw is actually made from wheat). Confused? After use, straw can be composted or even, I would imagine, just flung on the ground for nature to work on.

Seaweed straws

Though not on the market yet, there is talk in the oceans of one company who will be launching a “marine-degradable straw”. It boasts to be the first certified, edible bioplastic in the world.

Grass Straws

Similar to straws made from wheat, grass drinking straws are made from a sedge grass that grows wild across the Mekong Delta. It’s a wetland grass with a hollow stem that is collected, washed and cut into 20cm tubes. The inner surface is then cleaned with an iron rod before being washed again. They can be used once in restaurants or several times at home and are sold either ‘wet’ or dried. Check out the video below for details:

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Rachelle Strauss

1 Comment

  1. Natasha Dyer on June 18, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    I believe that plastic straws should be banned. The next step in the convo for those that need it then, is what does the redesign look like? Like don’t just stop at the fact that disabled ppl need them. If we know they are bad and shouldn’t be here, move on to what works (the redesign) for those that do. The conversation endlessly doesn’t go far enough.

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