If you’ve been paying attention to recent consumer product and environmentalism debates, you’ve probably noticed a lot of hubbub around plastic straws. Plastic straws are technically made from recyclable materials, but that doesn’t mean they get recycled, and most end up in landfills or polluting our oceans. With over 500 million plastic straws being used every day in the U.S. alone, it was only a matter of time before they would make it on the radar of environmental activists.
With the recent controversy surrounding plastic straws, eco-friendly solutions have begun to crop up, but not all are created equal. In this article, we want to discuss the debate around straws and the best alternative to plastic straws: Metal straws!
The Problem with Plastic Straws
According to For a Strawless Ocean, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050 if we continue to create and consume plastic products at our current rate. So how does all of this plastic end up in the ocean in the first place, aren’t there systems in place to dispose of or recycle plastic items? The majority of plastic ends up in the ocean on accident, and straws in particular are common culprits. Straws are frequently left on the beach, blown out of trash cans, and littered by careless pedestrians. Straws are so lightweight that a sudden gust of wind is all it takes to send them into the ocean, or roll them into gutters and sewers, all of which eventually lead to the ocean.
Plastic straws are made of polypropylene, identifiable by the number 5 resin code. Polypropylene is a recyclable plastic, but that doesn’t mean straws get recycled. The majority of recycling centers do not accept plastic straws since they are often too light and small to properly be processed and can slip through machines where they contaminate recycling loads of non-polypropylene.
With virtually no recycling companies accepting plastic straws, the majority end up in landfills and the ocean, eventually breaking down into micro-plastics or being consumed by wildlife. Sea turtles in particular have taken a major hit due to the enormous amount of plastic straws floating around in the ocean. Straws become lodged in sea turtle nostrils, are eaten by sea birds and fish, and cause life threatening gastrointestinal problems for the marine life that are unlucky enough to eat plastic straws and microplastics.
The straws that don’t wind up floating around the ocean end up in landfills, where they sit unchanged for up to 200 years. Seriously, that straw you use for 20 minutes on your morning commute will be polluting the Earth long after even your grandchildren have children. Clearly, single-use plastic straws are posing a serious threat to the overall health of our planet, and all those that inhabit it, so why don’t we just stop using them altogether?
The Benefits of Straws
You might be thinking the solution to our plastic straw problem is to ban all straws, and you wouldn’t be alone in that opinion. Cities like Seattle, New York City, and San Francisco have already begun to implement plans to completely ban the use and sale of plastic straws. Beverage companies, like Starbucks, have also taken notice of the call for fewer plastic straws, and begin offering ‘drinking lids’ as an alternative to single-use plastic straws. While fewer disposable plastic straws is definitely a good thing, straws aren’t all bad, and many people rely on them for health benefits, accessibility, and comfort.
Dental benefits of straw use:
- Prevent enamel erosion; straws keep acidic and sugary drinks from making direct contact with the teeth, which can help prevent enamel erosion
- Prevent cavities; again, because straws keep sugary drinks away from the teeth, using a straw can help you avoid cavities
- Keep your teeth white; staining beverages like coffee can make the teeth go yellow, a straw can keep your teeth looking whiter for longer
- Avoid tooth sensitivity; hot and cold drinks can cause pain for individuals with sensitive teeth, but using a straw can help you avoid pain while drinking a beverage
Besides the many dental benefits of using a straw to consume your drinks, many individuals with disabilities, small children, and the elderly rely on straws to help them drink and live independently. Individuals with certain physical disabilities may not be able to lift and tip a cup, or may not have steady enough hands to prevent spilling. Elderly folks may face similar difficulties, and without a straw might not be able to guide their drinks to their mouths, or drink on their own.
Straws are a super important accessibility tool, and without a viable plastic straw alternative, people with disabilities will be seriously and negatively impacted. However, the anti-straw argument is a sound one, and reasonable people agree less plastic in the ocean is the goal. Unfortunately, recent attempts to create eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws have not been particularly successful. Biodegradable, plant-based, and paper straws tend to dissolve and become unusable quickly, and drinking lids pose a problem for people with disabilities and the elderly.
Luckily for straw lovers and the environment, there is now a viable alternative to traditional single-use plastic straws: Metal straws!
Everything to Know About Metal Straws
The number one complaint about eco-friendly straws is that they rarely pass muster, often yielding much worse results than their plastic versions. Paper and biodegradable materials are often water soluble, so anyone wanting to enjoy a drink using an eco-friendly straw will need to drink quickly. Wowe Lifestyle has created the Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Metal Straws, an amazing eco-friendly alternative that will help reduce the number of straws in the ocean without negatively impacting the people that need them.
The Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Metal Straws from Wowe Lifestyle are the perfect alternative to traditional plastic straws. Stainless steel is strong, durable, and easy to clean, making these straws an all-around home run. When you buy a metal straw, you have a metal drinking straw for life. These eco-friendly products are designed to last for years, or even decades, with no visible signs of wear and tear so you can use them over and over again.
Besides being made from eco-friendly materials, metal straws are also more friendly to your wallet. Single use straws have to be repeatedly repurchased, which wastes time and money. Stainless steel straws need only be purchased once, and with proper care can last for a lifetime, saving you tons of money and waste.
Caring for your stainless steel straws:
- Use: Using a stainless steel straw is like using any other straw, and can even help make cold drinks even more refreshing as the steel cools.
- Storage: Unlike plastic and paper straws, metal straws run less risk of bending out of shape. This fact makes metal straws easier to store, and they can easily be tossed in your utensil drawer for easy access whenever you need one.
- Cleaning: Many metal straw manufacturers include plastic cleaning tools to care for their straws, but that plastic inevitably ends up in a landfill. Wowe Lifestyle has created a custom cotton straw cleaning tool to help remove sticky and sugary drinks from the inside of the straw.
Better yet, the Wowe Lifestyle Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Metal Straws are completely dishwasher safe. Plastic reusable straws, when exposed to high heat (like in the dishwasher) may release excess BPA, making them potentially harmful to your physical health. Stainless steel does not release harmful chemicals when heated, and can withstand repeated washing with no problems.
Other Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Straws and the environment have had a strained relationship, and they aren’t alone. Plastic bottles, plastic bags, toothbrushes, and so many other plastic consumer goods are similarly harmful to the environment. Wowe Lifestyle is dedicated to creating and sharing eco-friendly products with a wider market, hoping to help reduce global waste and give people a better option for their everyday household goods. Here are some of the other awesome eco-friendly products Wowe Lifestyle has to offer:
- Produce Bags: Rather than picking up yet another single-use plastic bag from the grocery store, try the Wowe organic cotton produce bags instead. Wowe offers mesh and solid bags, so you can use them for produce, bulk products, and much more. With only 1 in every 200 plastic bags being recycled, single-use plastic bags are a massive contributor to global pollution and plastic waste.
- Toothbrushes: Plastic toothbrushes are a non-recyclable item, and can take hundreds of years to even begin to decompose in landfills. Billions of toothbrushes are thrown away annually, making them yet another massive contributor to global plastic waste. Instead of purchasing yet another plastic toothbrush, opt for an eco-friendly bamboo alternative from Wowe.
- Water Bottles: Though you might be tempted to reuse your plastic water bottle, don’t. Prolonged use of single-use bottles can expose you to BPA and other harmful chemicals. The necessity to dispose of plastic water bottles has significantly contributed to global plastic pollution, and with 1,500 plastic water bottles used every second in the U.S. alone it is no wonder our landfills and oceans are overrun with these items. Rather than risk your health, wallet, and environmental conscience on single-use bottles, opt for a stainless steel reusable water bottle from Wowe instead.
If you’re not yet convinced on eco-friendly alternatives, take a look at the Wowe Lifestyle Blog! We discuss how products and consumer habits impact the environment, and give you lots of tips, tricks, and ideas on how to live a greener, cleaner life.