National Drinking Straw Day
The History of Straws
Drinking straws have been used for thousands of years. Archeologists have uncovered straws made of gold and other metals that are thousands of years old. The first patent for a drinking straw was issued to Marvin C. Stone on January 3rd, 1888. Unlike its predecessors, it was made of paper. Today the majority of straws are made from plastic. You can also find them made from bamboo, metal, ‘recyclable materials,” and even glass. It is difficult to find them made from paper anymore today.
How Many Straws Do We Use?
Reports show that Americans alone use about 500 MILLION straws a DAY. Yes, a DAY. You can circle the globe with them 2-1/2 times every single day with the straws used in America alone. That’s a LOT of straws!!
Straws and The Environment
Straws are listed in the top ten problem items for the environment. Many, many straws make their ways to the oceans. They end up in the water on littered all over beaches. From there to the stomachs of birds, fish, turtles and other wildlife. They are very harmful to wildlife. Even the “recyclable” straws cause problems when they make their way to the ocean. They are not designed to break down in the ocean.
Plastic straws don’t break down for thousands of years. And in most areas they can’t be recycled. Even the ones designed to be recycled don’t make their way to a recycling center as they aren’t equipped to deal with them. Those also end up in the ocean and on beaches where they don’t break down.
Straws and Regulations
Seattle was the first larger city to ban plastic straws. Their ban went into effect in July 2018. Starbucks is phasing out plastic straws by 2020. McDonald’s is banning them overseas, but not here. Airlines are phasing them out. On and on it goes. There is a huge movement to eliminate them. Once you see a decaying bird with a belly filled with plastic and the turtle who swallowed one and in trying to cough it back up, it got stuck in it’s nasal passage and was coming out of the nostril, you start to think twice about using a straw. I think we will see more and more of these bans as time goes on.
Do We Need Straws?
Let’s face it, many of us love straws – adults and kids alike. We made not “need” them, but we love them.
Kids love them. They even have fancy ones for kids (although I never did figure out how to wash them and, gulp, threw them away after one use and never bought
Should we use Straws?
There is research that says that sugary drink when consumed through a straw causes more tooth decay than the same product drunk straight from a glass.
Do we Have Alternatives?
There are environmentally safe alternatives. There are metal straws. Many are sold now sold with straw cleaning brushes. Amazon has a highly rated set that comes in various sizes and a brush. You can find them here.
There are also Silicone straws. They also can be cleaned with brushes like the metal straws. I do have to say that I have a lot of silicone bakeware. It is not easy to clean. I know you’re not baking the straws. But if you’re using them for smoothies and other fatty foods, or if they end up in your sink with anything greasy, I don’t see them being very easy to clean. But people like them. Amazon has some highly rated ones. This set has a mixture of silicone and metal and comes with brushes. It is also highly rated by consumers.
Also int he resuable category are glass drinking straws. This 6-pack also comes with cleaning brushes.
There’s also paper. But, gee, are they expensive for paper disposables!!
200-pack multi-colongd classically striped drinking straws. Made of paper and coated to withstand water for 12 hours. Biodegradable.
200-pack Christmas drinking straws. Made of paper and coated to withstand water for 12 hours. Biodegradable.
These are fun because they are printed with a gold foil. They say biodegradable. Mixed reviews about them standing up as well as the previous two, but they are perfect for a 50th-anniversary party, or any party where gold foil patterns would elevate using a straw.
As you look at the above straws, you’ll see many more that might catch your eye. Just be careful with the “Eco” straws. They are still plastic and will only decompose when buried in a landfill. These are the ones that won’t decompose in the ocean and lakes.