With plenty of local and international companies jumping on the pledge against plastic straws (and other single-use plastics), we are breaking down the what, why and how of zero waste straws so you can too. Plastic straws are unnecessary, wasteful and a significant contributor to one of the biggest environmental issues of our time; plastic pollution. Find out why you should make the switch to zero waste straws and how you can make a smooth transition.
What are zero waste straws?
Zero waste straws are alternatives to plastic straws made from reusable or recyclable materials. They provide a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic straws, which are typically made from polypropylene plastic. While polypropylene plastic can be recycled1, it is very difficult to recycle plastic straws because they are small, thin and bend easily, making them hard to successfully separate at recycling facilities because they easily fall into cracks and crevices of recycling machinery. Zero waste straws on the other hand are generally made of materials that can be reused over and over again before being recycled at the end of their life. Stainless steel and glass are common materials used to make reusable zero waste straws, being both heat and cold resistant for use with all liquids. While paper, bamboo and grain have also been used to make zero waste straws and are still a better alternative to plastic straws, these materials are not necessarily reusable ongoing, therefore we would recommend opting for stainless steel and glass if given the choice.
Why use zero waste straws?
It is estimated that up to 8.3 billion plastic straws cover the world’s coastlines, and about 1 billion plastic drinking straws are still being used worldwide each day2. Using zero waste straws and opting out of plastic straws is a no brainer for playing your part in looking after the environment. Yes, it is a small step that may seem insignificant when you think about all the other plastic polluting our planet, however a large public shift in these small behaviours can contribute to sustainable change.
How to use zero waste straws?
Keeping a zero waste straw or two on you at all times is a fool-proof way to never find yourself needing a plastic straw again. Being as small as they are, they’re a simple one to slip away in your handbag and will go unnoticed until you find yourself needing it. Remember to notify the cafe or restaurant worker that you don’t want a straw with your drink. On the odd occasion you don’t have your reusable straw on hand, drink straight out of the mug or glass!
Remember, this is not just about zero waste straws but is about the bigger picture. While none of us can single-handedly conquer the surmounting plastic pollution issue we are facing, small changes in our daily lives will make significant differences. Start chipping away at implementing zero waste living into your own lifestyle, adding on bit by bit.
1. British Plastics Federation (2018). Plastics Recycling. 22 November, http://www.bpf.co.uk/sustainability/plastics_recycling.aspx.
2. Geyer R, Jambeck JR & Law KL. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances 3(7).