Who among us hasn’t heard the sad stories of majestic sea turtles choking to death on the millions of plastic straws that have made their way to our oceans. While one plastic straw doesn’t seem like much cause for concern, when you think about how many add up over time, (we know they take hundreds of years to degrade) making the change to biodegradable straws is a no brainer.
But even with something as simple as a straw, there are still things to look out for when you’re trying to make the greenest choice.
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What are the best biodegradable straws?
You have a few options when it comes to straws that will not outlive you on this planet. These three choices are our top picks, with different features depending on your needs:
These plant-based straws will last in hot or cold drinks for up to six hours.
- Will remain in tact in hot and cold beverages for most of the day or night (six hours at a time)
- Available in 150, 500, and 1500 quantities
- These are so. expensive. If you have this kind of money to blow on straws, purchase a reusable pack and donate the difference to your favorite eco-friendly charity.
We reference an article from Debris Free Oceans below (here it is if you want to check it out now). Aardvark is the brand featured in their photo and the only item that completely biodegraded.
- Large quantity per order – 4,800
- Made in the USA
- Paper straws won’t last forever (that’s the point!) and this company makes no minimum promises. Count on these working for one drink at a time and you won’t be let down.
And here’s a straight version from this vetted brand:
- Very cute – these patterned straws would be great to offer at a gathering, and will likely engage a few guests to check out the eco-friendly bandwagon
- Straight – check out the listing above if you need a bend
- Made in the USA
- Same as above: Paper straws won’t last forever (that’s the point!) and this company makes no minimum promises. Count on these working for one drink at a time and you won’t be let down.
What are the best reusable straws?
Whether you opt for stainless steel, glass, or a jar lid, you can’t go wrong with bringing your own straw.
Stainless steel straws are the best for delivering cold drinks cold, straight to your mouth.
- 12-pack comes with every straw you could possibly need, with back ups
- Comes in various sizes to accommodate tall and short glasses
- No cons to speak of – they do their job
Glass? Yes, glass. But no need to worry, the borosilicate glass is strong, and up to the challenge.
- Clear glass gives you a cleaner drink – you can see if there’s gunk to clean
- Wide diameter makes these great for smoothies and other frozen drinks
- Dishwasher safe
- Plastic-free packaging
- While the wide straw is great for some, it’s not for everyone. One reviewer called it “girthy.”
More alternatives to plastic straws
Still looking for some options? Try these cute additions to make use of all those mason jars laying around.
These silicone lids screw right onto mason jars. You KNEW you save these things for a reason!
While you’re repurposing all those mason jars, slip these silicone “jackets” on them for a reNEWed glass on the go.
What makes something biodegradable?
First thing’s first, let’s get our science straight.
When something’s degradable that means it will break down, and continue to do so until it’s no longer the original product and has reverted to very simple compounds, like water or carbon dioxide.
Biodegradable goes a step further. According to Science Learning Hub, “A ‘biodegradable’ object is one that will break down quickly and safely into harmless compounds by using the action of microorganisms.”
If you follow along with our composting posts, you’ll recognize that that’s what we’re going for. So common sense leads us to realize that the more produced a product is, the less likely it is to degrade or biodegrade. This definitely goes for all those plastics that are made to last forever.
What about biodegradable plastic straws?
Unfortunately, “biodegradable plastic” is still a bit of an oxymoron, even if the company claims to have produced their bioplastics from renewable materials and without fossil fuels.
As this informative article from the non-profit organization Debris Free Oceans states:
“All plastic degrades, but it never disappears. Ocean tides and sunlight break plastic into tinier and tinier pieces – micro plastics – that persist in the environment forever. Beware the difference between degradable and biodegradable. Plastics photo-degrade, but they do not bio-degrade.”
I recommend checking out that link. They also have a really helpful photo of various household items (both plastic and “biodegradable”) at different stages in the decomposition process. Spoiler alert: not many things are actually going away. (But those Aardvark straws do!)
So, are biodegradable straws good?
That’s the good news. There are straw options not made from plastic that will biodegrade. These are primarily made from paper and innovative ingredients like potato starch. Check out the best options above.
What are eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws?
The best bet is to reduce the amount of stuff you’re purchasing in general. See above for our best picks of reusable straws made from things like stainless steel and glass. We even found some great reusable mug lids that may make you kiss off straws forever.