March 03, 2023 4 min read
It is estimated that, before the plastic straw ban, England used 4.7 billion plastic straws a year. Most of these ended up in landfills, waterways and oceans, where they can take hundreds of years to break down. This harms wildlife that ingest or become entangled in the straws, as well as contributes to the production of harmful greenhouse gases and microplastics. In 2020, the UK Government banned the distribution and sale of plastic straws, with exceptions for those who need to use them for medical reasons.
The alternative? Single-use straws made from other materials, or reusables.
As the name suggests, reusable straws are drinking straws that can be used over and over again, instead of being disposed of after one use. Reusable straws are typically made from materials that can be cleaned between uses, such as stainless steel, bamboo, silicone and glass.
In this article, we answer all of your most asked questions on reusable straws, starting with their benefits.
Reusable straws offer benefits for both individuals and the environment. The main benefits of reusable straws include:
Cleaning reusable straws between uses is essential to ensure they remain safe and hygienic to use. To clean your reusable straws,
The straw's case or pouch will also need to be cleaned, as it can trap and harbour bacteria. For a soft pouch, pop it in the washing machine once a week with your regular load. For the hard case, wash in hot soapy water, or wipe clean with a regular disinfectant.
Whether or not reusable straws are dishwasher safe depends on the material it is made from. If your reusable straw is made from stainless steel, silicone or bamboo, it should be safe to put in the dishwasher. If it is made from paper or another fragile material, it should not be put in the dishwasher.
As a general rule of thumb, if you can bend a reusable straw with your fingers, then it will not be dishwasher safe. As always though, you should consult with the product label or manufacturer’s guide for dishwasher-specific instructions.
Storing reusable straws properly can help keep them clean and extend their life.
You should store your reusable straws in a clean and dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Use a dedicated holder to keep them upright, but make sure it's ventilated to prevent moisture build-up.
Reusable straws will often come with a pouch or carry case that has been specifically designed to carry your straws. These are often compact enough to fit in your purse, lunchbox, backpack, or pocket.
If you don't have a pouch or case, you could wrap your straw in beeswax wrap or a clean bit of fabric to protect it from dirt.
Reusable straws are generally safe to use, but it's important to clean them between uses and follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe use. You should also invest in reusable straws made from food-grade materials, as these are safe for human consumption.
As an added bonus, bamboo straws are naturally antibacterial and antifungal, and our stainless steel and silicone straws are free from toxins and BPA, the industrial chemical sometimes found in plastic.
Yes, reusable drinking straws are better for the environment than single-use plastic straws. To get the most out of their production though, you should choose straws that will last as long as possible, and use the best washing practises to encourage them to last.
As Shelie Miller explains (via Anthropocene), reusable products are not always more green since their impact depends on how they are used. “We don’t want to have a scenario where reusable products are treated as semi-disposable, with people buying new reusable travel mugs and water bottles every few months,” she explains, instead “a reusable product must be reused before its environmental footprint per use matches that of a single-use counterpart.”
On that same note, reusable straws will make a difference — you can reduce your carbon footprint and use products that are better for your health — but you must reuse them. You should also look to reduce single-use plastic in other aspects of your life, to have the most positive impact on the environment.
Wild & Stone's mission is to create stylish, easy to adopt and usable alternatives to common plastic products around the home. We source all our products sustainably, from raw material to final delivery. Shop our full range of household products on our website.
Share your plastic-free swaps with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Instagram #wildandstone.
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