To sip or not to sip: Utilize reusable straws

By Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist

It’s no secret that plastic is damaging our planet – and quickly. Pictures of the effects of plastic consumption on the environment have been circulating the internet for years now.

In the last few months, many companies have announced plans to eliminate plastic straws. Some of these companies include Starbucks, Hilton and American Airlines. In fact, even Baylor, through an Aramark initiative, has cut straws from its dining halls. Most of these companies plan to ditch plastic straws in favor of biodegradable options like paper straws. However, if you have ever used a paper straw, you would know that it degrades before your drink is gone.

Reusable straws are a viable solution for those who cannot imagine giving up straws completely. They are fairly inexpensive and many even come with a case to keep them clean in your bag if you want to bring them to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. You can easily clean your reusable straws with a long, skinny cleaning brush.

Everybody has different preferences, so you should carefully weigh the options before choosing your reusable straw.

Stainless steel straws are extremely durable and smooth but some may find the steely mouthfeel uncomfortable. They can also give your drinks a slight metallic taste and they conduct heat so you should only use them with cold drinks.

Glass straws have a smooth consistency but are usually on the pricier side. Since they are clear, it is easy to be sure you have cleaned them thoroughly.

Silicone straws are gentle on your teeth and are favorable for drinking smoothies with because they tend to be larger. Since they are flexible, they are not easily broken and can be easily transported. They do not have a taste but some people may not like the squishy mouthfeel.

Acrylic straws are commonly found in reusable tumbler cups but can be used with any cup. They are less durable and can be cracked if dropped.

Bamboo straws, my personal favorite, can vary in size and shape. They do have a slight texture so some may not enjoy the feel. They are 100 percent natural and compostable as they are made from wood, so they get extra brownie points from nature-lovers. Bamboo straws work with both hot and cold drinks but may give the drink a slight wood taste. Also, they may not last as long as stainless steel straws depending on the brand.

Whether you have been a loyal user of plastic straws for years or have chosen to go the earth-friendly route when it comes to your beverage enjoyment, the war on plastic straws has officially begun. Consumers will eventually have to choose between biodegradable straws, reusable straws or no straws.

Claire is a sophomore studio art major from San Antonio.