Reusable Straw Keychains, Bamboo Straws & 8 Other Plastic Straw Alternatives

It's official: plastic straws are out. Here are the best plastic straw alternatives for eco-friendly drinking.

With over 500 million straws being used and tossed in the trash daily in the United States, it's no wonder how many end up in landfills, waterways, and oceans, eventually causing health problems for wildlife like this sea turtle.

Further estimates indicate that:

  • 100,000 marine animals — as well as a million seabirds — die every year from ingesting plastic
  • It takes approximately 200 years for a straw to biodegrade
  • By the year 2050 there will actually be more plastic in the ocean than marine life
  • The plastic straws are made with, called polypropylene, can leach into liquids and release compounds impacting estrogen levels — especially in heated beverages
  • Plastic manufacturing results in chemicals which now show up in our blood, urine, and cells

Alternatives to plastic straws

Luckily, there are several, and most allow you to continue drinking through straws every day, as much as you wish. If you're eager to stop using single use plastic straws and transition to something new and more eco-friendly, you're in for some treats. Whether you prefer reusable, compostable, edible, or otherwise, there's something in here for you. 

Here's our guide to the top 10 plastic straw alternatives.

Bamboo straws

Image Credit: Bamboo Straw Girl

Eco-friendly, fast-growing, panda-loving bamboo is one of the top alternatives to plastic straws in today's market - but are bamboo straws the best choice? 

Most bamboo reusable straws are crafted from a single, whole piece of bamboo, cut to fit varying lengths to fill various needs.

Bamboo straw pros: 

  • Reusable (sometimes) up to 50 times
  • Available in different widths
  • Natural 
  • Compostable
  • Works well for both cold and hot drinks
  • Bamboo plants are able to grow 4 feet in one day, known as the fastest growing woody plant in the world
  • Plants require no pesticides and very little water

Bamboo straw cons

  • Purchased from an unethical source, bamboo can be far less earth-friendly than you'd think
  • Can fray and splinter apart after some use, so you'll want to be careful handing them out — especially to children

Bottom line:

If you're ready to switch to reusable straws, can manage the natural variation of bamboo straws, and don't mind a little wear over time (but you'll monitor wear, especially around children - and be sure to compost these when it's time), these are for you. Check out our favorites, and be sure to grab some with cleaning brushes (or buy a single cleaning brush) for optimal hygiene.

Our favorite bamboo straw brands:

Keychain straws

Image Credit: FinalStraw

Next, we're on to portable folding straws that collapse into 4 or more parts to fit onto a keychain. These are usually constructed of reusable stainless steel and come with a cleaning brush or squeegee to maintain hygiene.

Keychain straw pros:

  • Fun to open when among friends for the "James Bond" appeal
  • Impressive flexibility
  • Small container, ideal for the minimalists

Keychain straw pros:

  • Tricky to clean
  • Metal/stainless steel straws heat up quickly in hot liquids, which may make them uncomfortable to touch to the lips
  • May get stuck in certain lids; hard to remove
  • Some complained of an odd noise when they pulled their scrubber through for cleaning

Bottom line:

These are great for traveling light, those who enjoy showing off new gadgets, and the minimalists. Some of our favorite brands below even offer lifetime guarantees - so you'll never need another straw!

Our favorite keychain straw brands:

  • FinalStraw is the most popular of these reusable straw keychain types, available here for $25.00. FinalStraw is a beaten or something. and maybe even has beaten its fundraising goal on Kickstarter, and is expected to ship November 2018. It comes with a recycled plastic case and specially designed squeegee, which users can pull straight  through the straw and keep it sparkly clean. There's also a lifetime guarantee and aims to be a permanent replacement for plastic single-use straws. Find FinalStraw promo codes here.
  • X Straw collapses to fit into a cylindrical container for $19.95 here, and comes with its own cleaning brush. Get free delivery on orders over $25 with these X Straw promo codes.
  • ModernBeyond has one with your choice of 4 colors for $19.99 here. There's free shipping available too with these ModernBeyond coupons.
  • Happy Hama has one with a magnetic lid and cool sea turtle design, and will show you how to clean the reusable complimentary straws with the cleaning squeegee for $9.99 here. This set hopefully reminds everyone to get a new reusable straw with case and/or reusable straw carry-along pouch.

Paper straws

Image Credit: Aardvark Straws

Some companies and individuals within range of a plastic straw ban (or more lenient provide-upon-request laws) have opted for biodegradable paper straws, which provide the same convenience, greater eco-friendliness, and cost only a couple of cents more per item. 

Keychain straw pros:

  • These only spend about 2.5 months in the landfill (but that increases with the amount of pulp in it, processes added for shelf life, etc.)
  • Convenient
  • May come in a variety of designs including customized, with your business logo, etc.

Keychain straw cons:

Bottom line:

While these do provide a higher biodegradability compared to other straws, they can still be a problem if eaten by an animal prior to breaking down, etc. — and their true environmental impact is measured by whether these are constructed of recycled materials themselves as well.

Our favorite keychain straw brands:

  • Aardvark StrawsAmerican made, won't fall apart in your drink, and biodegradable. These are the sturdiest paper straws we could find, but they're also sold in pricey quantities, and you may wait a few weeks for your order to arrive. Check out the variety Aardvark Straws has to offer here. Check for Aardvark Straws promo codes here
  • Kikkerland has boxes of 144 ct. for $9 in a vast variety of designs including plaid, iridescent, gold, and rainbow here. Get 15% off your order with these Kikkerland promo codes
  • Straws Shop: Order wrapped or unwrapped paper straws in amounts like 1,200 -2,000, with prices like $50.00-$59.99 here

Wheat Stem Straws (Straw Straws)

Image credit to Harvest Straws

Originally used in the 1880's when soda shop diners wanted an alternative to the rye grass versions popular in the day, straw straws are now making a comeback as plastic straw alternatives for environmental reasons. Hand cut and harvested from pesticide-free German grain stalks, these straws are greener solutions to use in place of plastic or several other options.

What stem straw pros:

  • Biodegradable
  • Renewable
  • As long as no chemicals have been used to lengthen shelf life, these should quickly break down in landfill

What stem straw cons:

  • Break easily, often snapping lengthwise
  • Get soggy quickly

Bottom line:

If you have a chance to try them without buying a box of 1000, go for it. Some like them just fine, others say they break too easily get mushy too fast in liquid.

Our favorite wheat stem straw brands:

Corn PLA straws

Image Credit to Vegware

Made from polylactic acid, or corn plastic, corn PLA straws are made from renewable sources like corn starch in the United States and sugar canes elsewhere in the world. 

Corn PLA straw pros:

  • Non-toxic, safe for drinking
  • Plant-based and renewable
  • Composting takes between 50 days and 12 months - landfill decomposition takes appx 3 - 5 years

Corn PLA straw cons:

  • There is little info on the carbon footprint of their production

Bottom line:

These are definitely a better option than plastic, but until we find out more about the carbon footprint involved in their production, we'll wait on determining how much better. If you're offered the choice in a soda shop or restaurant, opt for one of these - but wait on the 5,000-count case for now.

Our favorite corn PLA straws:

Glass straws

Image Credit to Strawesome

Another attractive and eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws, glass straw substitutes are highly sustainable and can come in all sorts of shapes, colors, widths, and lengths.

Glass straw pros:

  • Non-toxic
  • Doesn't retain odors or flavors of what you drank before
  • Can see through it to make sure it's clean

Glass straw cons:

  • Many of them shatter when dropped - even from a short distance
  • Heavy

Bottom line:

If you've got a fancy soiree coming up, or fully carpeted environs, these could be for you. Be cautious and alert for dropping and/or breakage. Not great for small kids. They're supposedly easy to clean in the dishwasher or using a complimentary cleaning brushprovided with your order.

Our favorite glass straws:

Metal & stainless steel straws

Image Credit to Eco at Heart

Since some complain that metal production has a costly carbon footprint, while others note that some regions where these are made aren't exactly known for their fair trade practices, these aren't everyone's top choice. Aside from those issues, if you should end up with a box of these, you'll probably enjoy them. 

Stainless steel straw pros:

  • Don't retain odors or flavors of whatever you drank before
  • Durable
  • Looks nice in a glass
  • Rust-proof (if stainless steel)

Stainless steel straw pros:

  • Frequently stolen when served in restaurants/bars
  • Since their constitution is entirely rigid, be careful bringing close to your mouth until you adjust to the inflexibiity
  • If super cold or dipped in frozen drinks, might be harsh for sensitive teeth
  • Not great if these end up in the landfill - they'll be in there for a tremendous amount of time. Might as well take them to the recycling center if you don't want them anymore, or drop them off at the thrift shop  - anywhere they can do some good

Bottom line:

If you still want to serve them and reduce costs/be eco-friendly, try to restrict your serving to those at the bar only - where patrons are up close to bartenders and waitron and therefore less likely to steal. 

Our favorite stainless steel straws:

Excellent for slurping smoothies, Eco at Heart Stainless Steel Straws has a set of 5 wide stainless steel straws for $15.00 currently (marked down from $24.90). Eco at Heart donates 5% of their profits to cleaning up beaches and oceans, too. Get free shipping on all US orders with these Eco at Heart promo codes.

Snow Peak's Titanium Straws are $17.95 each, but the good news is: they're likely the last you'll ever need. They're currently sold out, but you can add your email address to get notified when they're re-stocked here. You can get free shipping on orders over $100 with these Snow Peak promo codes.

If you like a little more bendability to your stainless steel, check out The Last Straw. Get a handy pack of their 3 thick, twisty boba straws for $15.00 here

If you're looking for a little better deal, try Sur la Table's 6 straws for $11.95 here. Get 20% off your purchase with one of these Sur la Table promo codes.

Pasta straws

Image Credit to the Amazing Pasta Straw

We suspect that not many will try these first, but for those who do — they actually stay surprisingly firm in most drinks. Made with bucatini pasta, which is especially flavorless, you may wish to seek out the most local, organic variety you can find to help farmers avoid monoculture and opt for more variety in their farming methods. 

Pasta straw pros:

  • 100% compostable and biodegradable
  • Takes only 6 months to decompose in the landfill
  • Maintain their shape for up to 3 hours while drinking
  • Vegan-friendly

Pasta straw cons:

  • Difficult to find in some regions
  • No gluten-free version yet
  • If you're drinking plain water, you may detect a slight pasta flavor; (otherwise, the beverage's flavor generally takes dominance)
  • Perishable over time

Bottom line:

We think these are worth a try if you can get your hands on some. If you don't like them, you can always compost or try it as actual pasta. If fresh, do make sure the pasta selected for the straws is free of raw eggs in the mix.

Our favorite pasta straw brands:

We only chose one for this category — but it's the best one! The Amazing Pasta Straw lets you choose a sampler pack for $7.90, or you can go all the way up to a 30,000 count box for $1,889.00.  Shipping is free in the contiguous U.S. if orders are over $10.00 with one of these Amazing Pasta Straw promo codes.

Other plastic straw alternatives

Still not sure which kind of straw you'd like to replace your plastic straws with? Well, we're not done yet! Even though the following options aren't as plentiful doesn't mean they aren't worth a mention! Check these out for your non-plastic sucking satisfaction.

Ice straws

Image Credit to Barbuzzo

Just pour water (or juice) across the food-grade silicone rubber slats on this baby and you'll be sipping through a frozen straw in no time! You can find these at a few places, including Barbuzzo for $20.00, and $19.90 at Walmart. Check for Walmart promo codes here.

Silicone straws

Image Credit to Softy Straws

Softy Straws are flexible, soft, and malleable. They're also made from non-plastic BPA free food grade silicone, inspected for quality by the FDA and rohS. Further, they are free of BPS, phthalate, lead, mercury, PBBs, cadmium, and other harmful carcinogens. Get a pack of 4 here plus a cleaning squeegee to boot for just $10.99.

Edible, hyper-compostable straws

Image Credit to LOLISTRAW

Plastic-free, marine degradeable, and non-GMO, the LOLISTRAW is made of seaweed — a remarkably renewable resource. LOLISTRAW is currently in Kickstarter phase awaiting their first shipment; watch this space for updates. 

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Posted on Jan 17, 2014