Plastic straws are bad. We all know that by now, so it’s time to get on board the reusable straw train if you’re not already. From silicone straws to stainless steel, and glass straws to natural bamboo, here are some eco-friendly straws that don’t suck (well, you know what I mean).
What are the benefits of plastic straws?
They come in different sizes to fit all your reusable water bottles and tumblers; some are collapsible for easy portability (so you can tell restaurants to hold the straw, please—just try not to be too smug about it); most come with cleaning brushes and carrying or storage cases; and there are a range of eye-catching colors for those who like to jazz up their day with bright accessories. These reusable straws are also sturdy and dishwasher-safe—except for the few throw-away options at the end, which are at least compostable and biodegradable, so still a better choice than conventional plastic straws that can clog up landfills and oceans.
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Investing in reusable straws (and actually remembering to use them consistently) may seem like a minuscule move in the fight against plastic waste, but all those small steps still add up over time. Besides, more and more places are banning plastic straws, so you may as well find your favorite earth-friendly option sooner rather than later.
This stainless straw is perfect for taking with you wherever you may go; it collapses to a compact size and the case has a metal ring so you can attach it to your belt, bag, or key chain and be less likely to forget it. The ability to telescopically collapse the straw also means you can adjust the length for various sizes of cups and glasses. Plus, it comes in several colors and includes a brush for thoroughly cleaning the straw of any residue. The downsides? All metal straws can get extremely hot or extremely cold depending on what you’re drinking and are potentially hazardous to your teeth, so sip cautiously when necessary. (Or invest in silicone tips!)Buy Now
Related Reading: You’re Not Cleaning Your Water Bottle Often Enough
If you’re just after conventionally shaped (non-telescoping) straws, this set of eight stainless steel straws includes four straight and four angled, depending on your sipping preferences, but they’re all 10 1/2 inches long for larger 30 ounce tumblers (gotta stay hydrated, after all). A storage pouch and two cleaning brushes are included too. (If these are too plain for your tastes, try a rainbow-effect stainless straw set. Or go for rose gold metal straws; you get a set of multiple lengths and styles.)Buy Now
Like stainless steel, glass straws won’t absorb flavors or odors, and they’re much sturdier than you might think. You can find models that are straight, but this 8-inch set mimics the slant of bendy straws, and comes in an array of bright hues, helpful for remembering whose drink is whose. In a pretty standard move, two cleaning brushes are also included. Some people prefer the mouthfeel of glass, while others (ahem) find glass straws a little too similar to old-school mercury thermometers, so YMMV.Buy Now
If you like the idea of a collapsible straw for easier portability but are concerned about chipping your teeth or searing and/or numbing your lips with hot or super cold beverages, these silicone straws may be your happy medium. BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, these collapsible (really, foldable) silicone straws are soft yet durable; you get 10 total in a range of fetching colors, and they come with four silicone carrying cases—with loops so you can attach them to your keychain—and three nifty squeegees for cleaning them. The squeegees are also made from silicone, a nice departure from the plastic-bristled metal brushes that come with most reusable straws. These are 8 1/2 inches long, which should be good for all but the deepest tumblers, but if you have even smaller cups, you can always trim them down to size. (If you need something longer, try these 10-inch silicone straws.)Buy Now
Technically, all silicone straws are somewhat collapsible (at least flexible enough to squish into tight spaces), and these offer all the other benefits of the material too. They’re safe for teeth and heat-resistant—but what sets them apart is their flatter and thinner oval shape. That means they’ll fit into smaller drink lid openings, as commonly found on coffee cups. You get 2 in this set (an 8-inch and a 10-inch), plus the usual cleaning brush.Buy Now
Related Reading: The Best Reusable Coffee Cups for Those On the Go
If you like the eco-friendliness and easy clean factor of stainless straws but tend to chew and/or have a preference for hot liquids (which can make stainless straws really burn), these metal straws come with silicone tips to protect your lips and teeth. Plus, there are several different sizes in the set to fit a range of glasses and cups, different diameters to accommodate different drinks, and both straight and angled options in the mix—a straw for every occasion, basically. Two cleaning brushes come with, and there’s a storage pouch as well.Buy Now
Like thick drinks (and you cannot lie)? These reusable straws have an extra-wide diameter so they’re good for smoothies, shakes, bubble tea, and slushy frozen cocktails. Unlike more colorful hard plastic reusable boba/smoothie straws and their silicone counterparts, these metal straws have an angled bottom to help suck up every last tapioca pearl or bit of milkshake. They also include silicone tips to buffer your lips from the icy cold. In addition to the usual cleaning brush and cotton storage pouch, these also come with a PVC pouch for toting your dirty straws home (or at least to the closest sink).Buy Now
Sometimes, no matter how guilty you feel about it, you just want to be able to toss your picnic supplies when you’re done with them. Luckily, you can find compostable products from plates to utensils that are better than conventional single-use products, and these are the closest you’ll get to old-fashioned plastic straws when it comes to environmentally friendly alternatives.Buy Now
Related Reading: Eco-Friendly (& Stylish) Picnic Supplies
Paper straws were the original biodegradable straw darlings, and they remain super cute, but many people (again, ahem) hate the feel and taste of them, and they do eventually get soft and soggy, which is…not a great quality in a drinking tool. Still, they might suffice for a party, or at least for crafting.Buy Now
Yes, these are still made from plastic, but they’re meant to be used again and again, so still a better option than single-use straws. They’re also pretty jaunty, and might be just the thing for a party if you love the look of striped paper straws but not the potential for them turning to mush.Buy Now
If you’re still looking for another alternative to silicone, stainless steel, glass, plastic, and paper, try these bamboo straws, which vary slightly in diameter since they are a natural product. Like every other reusable straw and straw set on this list, these come with a cleaning brush—but whereas all the other brushes have plastic bristles, this one’s bristles are made from coconut fiber. (That said, a couple reviewers say it’s not very durable, but points for trying.) You might notice a faint bamboo flavor if the straw sits in your glass for an extended period, but the company touts a money-back satisfaction guarantee, so no harm in trying them!Buy Now
Similar to the bamboo straws but designed to be used only once before going in the compost, these all-natural drinking straws are made from minimally processed wheat stems. They’re advertised as safe for gluten-free folks to use and never get soggy, but they are thin, according to some reviews, so not ideal for thick drinks.Buy Now
On-trend and entirely biodegradable, pasta straws seem like a great option, with some caveats: You don’t want to use them with hot drinks, which will make them soften much faster, and some people notice a starchy aftertaste and mealy mouthfeel. They’re also not gluten-free, but that said, they’re definitely worth a try, and if you don’t want to buy a box of hand-selected pasta straws, just drop a couple bucks on some good old bucatini (which is, admittedly, thinner in diameter than some pasta tubes made specifically for drinking). Try one strand as a straw and if it sucks, just throw the rest in your pasta pot.Buy Now
Or you could always use a true zero-waste straw: a Twizzler with the ends bitten off:
Header image courtesy of Food52