Biodegradable Drinking Straws

Beth Asaff
Drinking Straws

Biodegradable drinking straws are a great way to protect the enamel on your teeth, while you protect the environment. Thousands of drinking straws are used each day around the world. Replacing them with biodegradable straws can reduce the amount of plastic in the environment dramatically.

A Brief History of Drinking Straws

Straws made of rye were used more than 5,000 years ago by beer drinkers to filter out the fermented particles in their drinks. The straws were thin, and resembled hot beverage straws more closely than they do the straws that are used today.

Natural drinking straws were used until 1888, when Martin Stone patented the spiral winding system for producing paper straws. These paper drinking straws were coated with a layer of paraffin to keep the paper from becoming soggy while in use, and were just wide enough to keep a lemon seed from being lodged inside of them. Paper straws caught on in popularity, and became the forerunner of today's plastic drinking straws.

The Use of Drinking Straws

While a drinking straw may be something that comes to mind when you consider a fountain drink, or a drink you'd give a child, these plastic tubes are used by the thousands each day. Dentists recommend the use of drinking straws, particularly with young children to pull sugary liquids into the mouth without the risk of harm to tooth enamel. Straws are also seen as a more sanitary method of liquid consumption in circumstances where a drinking glass rim may not be perfectly clean.

Types of Drinking Straws

While the vast majority of drinking straws used today are made of a stiff plastic, two other types of drinking straws are catching on in popularity, glass straws and biodegradable drinking straws. A glass straw has the ability to be used multiple times, saving waste and the cost of replacement straws. A glass straw must be boiled or otherwise sanitized between uses, and can shatter if dropped or used improperly. Therefore, glass straws are not a practical option for restaurants and other areas of high drinking straw use.

Biodegradable straws can be purchased in bulk like standard straws and are meant to be used once thrown away. They are available for sale wrapped and unwrapped, with coffee stirrers as well, offering choices for both household and commercial use.

The difference between a biodegradable straw and a plastic straw is that instead of taking years to begin to break down like a plastic straw, leaching plastic chemicals into the environment, a biodegradable straw can break down within 180 days if subjected to the proper conditions. The straws themselves are made of products such as starch based resins, corn and bamboo; all inexpensive and renewable products. This means that biodegradable straws are not only environmentally friendly they're friendly to your wallet as well.

Where to Purchase Biodegradable Drinking Straws

If you are already using biodegradable plates, or biodegradable hot beverage cups, chances are the same retailer also carries biodegradable straws. If you're just starting the hunt for biodegradable plastic products for household or restaurant use, check out some of these retailers.

Drinking straws may seem like a small amount of plastic to be throwing away, until you think of how many are used each day. Converting to biodegradable products for use in drinking straws can help promote the use of these products, while keeping harmful plastics out of landfills and oceans. Keep biodegradable straws in your home for young children, and encourage restaurants that you frequent to do their part by offering a biodegradable straw as well. Switching over is a small change that can have a very large impact.

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Biodegradable Drinking Straws