Posted on December 20 2022,
It may be a simple craving for some or a motivation to get up in the morning for others, but coffees, juices, milk teas, and other beverages are already a part of our meals and even our routines. Taste is extremely important but so is the entire drinking experience - the texture, the ambiance, the drink container, and the straw!
There are quite a lot of options for drinking straws available and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Tempting as it might be to just wing it and choose whatever is in front of you, we just have to say it: They are not the same and it 100% matters in the greater scheme of the drinking experience and in the grander scheme of things as well.
To help you make the decision, it is important to understand the benefits of each type of straw. In this detailed guide, we outline the differences between each straw to ensure you find the best drinking straw to complement your drinks whether you are a business owner or decision maker, a drink aficionado or if you’re just a bit curious.
Types of Straws
Plastic straws are the cheapest and most durable option. Most people are accustomed to this type growing up using these for their juice boxes as kids, smoothies as teens, and frappes as adults. They are the most familiar, most prominent, most readily available, and also the most notorious for the damage they cause to the environment.
These types of straws are non-biodegradable and would take over 200 years to decompose. They tend to get ingested by sea birds and turtles who mistake them for food and clog up their digestive system.
In recent years, many have clamored for the ban on single-use plastics, particularly plastic straws. However, the ban only currently covers selected cities and plastic straws are still the most commonly used type of straw.
As more light is shed on the harmful effects plastic straws have on our environment, paper straws have become the most common replacement used by businesses. Paper straws are the cheapest alternative to plastic straws. They’re biodegradable and come in different colors and designs.
However, consumers are unhappy with the drinking experience they get with regular paper straws. These straws tend to get soft and soggy after just a few minutes, leaving users with an unpleasant mouthfeel and sometimes even a bad paper aftertaste in their mouths.
Paper straws are becoming more widely used today but using a bad quality one can ruin the experience of drinking even the best-tasting and fanciest of drinks.
During 2019, metal straws became an “it” item and a serious contender for plastic straw alternatives. It’s reusable and you don’t have to worry about it getting soggy. They also come in a variety of sizes and styles.
What some might not know though is that although it's durable, the production of metal straws is not environmentally friendly at all. The energy used to create a single metal straw generates carbon emissions equivalent to approximately 150 plastic straws.
That means it would take years and years before it’s worth having. The inconvenience of having to wash it using a special straw brush does not also help the case of metal straws. At the same time, metal straws also pose a risk of contamination since it can be a perfect vessel for mold and bacteria from leftover food particles—even after rinsing thoroughly.
Sugarcane Bagasse Straws
Sugarcane bagasse straws are promising newcomers in the straw scene. They are made from a highly renewable resource - a dry pulpy fiber that is left after the sugarcane has been processed and squeezed out. They are made from 100% natural plant fiber and have no plastic coating.
In terms of durability, these can last up to 4-6 hours in a beverage without having to worry about your drink changing in taste and texture. It’s a good middle ground between a plastic straw that takes centuries to decompose and a paper straw that gets soggy in just a few minutes.
In terms of disposal, bagasse straws are compostable within as little as 45 days.
The downside is that it’s a little bit more expensive compared to plastic and paper straws, but what you are purchasing is quality and eco-friendliness. Needless to say, saving the earth should be worth the peso or a few cents price difference.
Different Sizes of Straws
Straws serve different purposes. It allows drinkers to sip or stir a wide range of beverage products with ease. Here’s a rundown of the most common straw sizes to fit your drinking needs:
- Standard (6mm) - mostly for water, juices, milk drinks, coffee, and tea
- Wide/Bubble Tea (12 mm) - ideal for thick drinks like slushies, smoothies, milkshakes, milk tea, and other drinks with sinkers or add-ons such as boba tapioca pearls, nata de coco, pudding, jelly, and the like.
Individually Packaged Straws
Individually wrapped straws are also available as an option, especially for food businesses. Many restaurants and cafes offer individually wrapped straws due to the nature of their business and the convenience of having the straws wrapped individually.
This way, the straws stay clean whether they are served to the customers or waiting to be used. Individually wrapped straws give better protection against bacteria transmission than those unwrapped. Although restaurants may employ the best protocols for food safety, given the nature of take-out and delivery where the items may not be handled as hygienically. It is therefore in the interest of the customer as well as the food businesses that straws be individually wrapped for safety, protection from disease, and also peace of mind.
Whatever ends up as your final straw, you should remember that even the smallest action can have a great impact. If you’re not yet ready to go 100% zero waste, it’s totally understandable. You can start small- a small straw can make a big difference.
Econtainer offers sugarcane bagasse straws in multiple sizes. They are available individually packed as well. Check them out here for more details.