Drinking Straws: A necessary evil for some
I recently read this article about restaurants banning drinking straws in the Toronto Metro. This was quickly followed by another article that points out the necessity of straws for some people with disabilities. Since I am disabled and require straws in order to drink, I thought I would look at some options.
Plastic Drinking Straws
Plastic straws are the cheapest and most common type of straw available. Unfortunately they are very bad for the environment because they are disposable and not biodegradable. Plastic straws also contain harmful chemicals which can be be released into your drink. I personally use plastic straws because I require something that is flexible and won’t break down when submerged in liquid for long periods of time.
You can buy flexible, plastic straws like the ones I use here:
Paper Drinking Straws
Straws made from paper are the old school straws. Before the popularity of plastic, most straws were made of paper. Paper straws are more expensive than plastic straws. They are also disposable, but they are biodegradable which is better for the environment. Of course this means one of the drawbacks of paper straws is that the cheaper ones tend to get soggy if left in liquid too long. I have not personally used paper straws because I haven’t found any that are flexible.
You can buy straight, paper straws with fun designs here:
Metal Drinking Straws
Metal straws are a good durable option but are more expensive than the others. They are available in stainless steel or titanium. Metal straws are reusable and won’t leak toxins into your drink. Since they are reusable, metal straws require cleaning after every use. I like that many metal straws are pre-bent but because of their lack of flexibility, I find positioning my drink difficult.
You can buy pre-bent stainless steel straws like the ones I’ve tried here:
Silicone Drinking Straws
Silicone straws are another environmentally friendly option. They are BPA free and are a healthier alternative to plastic straws. Silicone straws are also reusable and need to be cleaned regularly. I haven’t tried silicone straws yet, but I intend on trying the pre-bent ones featured below.
You can buy pre-bent, colourful silicone straws here:
What To Do
Should the needs of a few people come at the expense of protecting the environment? I don’t think straws need to be an all or nothing issue. As you can see there are a lot of safe, environmentally friendly options for restaurants, bars and personal use. If dining establishments provided straws made from environmentally friendly materials, they could help the environment and save money by offering straws to those who need them. I personally carry my own straws with me so that I have something that will be appropriate for me to drink.
Do you require straws to drink? Which kind of straws do you prefer? Please let me know in the comments below.