Drinking with a straw is fine, just not any straw

Home/Green Tips, Health/Drinking with a straw is fine, just not any straw

There is a never ending debate about the pros and cons of drinking with straws. We all know the usual drawbacks associated with their use: bloating, higher risk of cavities, messy for kids… What if the real big straw problem was not one of the usually commented on traits?

Indeed, these common annoyances can be lightened up, when not fully solved:

  • Bloating, belching and intestinal gas- More than your using of a straw, one of these causes may be to blame: Eating fatty or certain foods (baked beans, cabbage), sucking on hard candies, drinking carbonated drinks, chewing gum, stress or anxiety, smoking, suffering from a gastrointestinal infection, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease or lactose intolerance… You can either remove or alleviate these symptoms.
  • Lead to more cavities & tooth decay- Only true if you over-drink sugary sodas with the straw against your teeth. As long as you put it in the back of your mouth (after the teeth), using a straw may actually help avoid cavities and tooth decay, even if you only reduce your soda intake. And basic good oral health practices (no fluids kept in your mouth while sipping, no soda before bed, no brushing right after drinking as enamel is weakened).
  • Encourage kids to blow bubbles and create a mess- That’s easy, just set the rules: Blowing bubbles + making a mess = no more straw. There, done. A good way for kids to learn the benefit of good behavior.

But there is one enduring, not so easy problem to deal with when using straws. It is that most of them are made of PLASTIC. And about 500 million of them are used daily in the U.S. A few more scary facts about them:

  • Always in the Top 10 items found at beach cleanups, and huge contributor to the Garbage Patch
  • In the U.S., one person sips through ~38,000 straws in a lifetime
  • Plastic straws are mostly not reused nor recyclable and they come in a plastic or paper wrap, i.e. more waste
  • How to know if they are BPA-free, phthalate-free… safe for the health?

If that’s enough motivation to cut down on the waste, know that there’s an easy way to do it while still enjoying our drink with a straw: Use a stainless steel or a glass straw (check out Strawesome and Glass Dharma).

Both stainless steel and glass straws solve the plastic straws issues…

  • Reusable- Easy to wash with a special long thin brush
  • Forever- Stainless steel is unbreakable and most glass straws offer lifetime free replacement 
  • Non toxic- No plastic = no concern about the use of unsafe chemicals
  • Shape options- Bent or straight, short or long (small vs large glass, or kid vs. adult size), thin or wide (juice vs smoothie), glass straws can even be color personalized

… and they come with benefits:

  • Help prevent teeth staining- From tea, coffee and wine if you place the straw in the back of your mouth
  • Giftable- Make a very cool, original, unusual and useful gift
  • Kids development aid- Per some speech therapists, help kids’ oral development, making it easier to learn to articulate and pronounce words

Finally, between plastic and stainless steel/glass, is a third option: disposable paper straws. They make a nice second best but not for personal use, rather for parties when you would typically buy disposable plastic straws in larger quantities. Some paper straws, like Susty Party‘s are truly green: compostable and paper recyclable, made in the USA out of sustainably harvested FSC-certified paper. And they do hold long enough to enjoy a drink without rushing.

So what’s not to like about the idea to kiss goodbye to the good old plastic straw and switch to the green path of safely reusing with glass or stainless steel options?


Disclosure: I met Strawesome’s owner and artist, Daedra Surowiec, who gave me some of her glass straws. I owned a stainless steel one before and had never tried glass options so that was the perfect way to make my own opinion on the quality of the product. I also got paper straws from Susty Party. That said, no one asked or expected me to talk about any of these. I was going to write about stainless steel straws as a green replacement for disposable plastic straws so I am glad to expand this article’s perspective via my personal experience of glass and paper options, as well as being able to provide you with tried and trusted names. 


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