I recently bought a blended drink from a chain coffee shop. It came with an obnoxiously large straw about which the barista announced as she poked into my drink, “It changes color and you can wash it up to 25 times!”
“Cool!” I said as I took my drink and headed for the door. I couldn’t care less about the changing color feature but I liked the idea of reusing it.
Once in my vehicle I took my first sip. The straw was so awkwardly large in my mouth and too much drink came up at once and I wanted to just drink it without the straw.
My husband hated his straw, too.
By the time I finished my drink there was no way I was going to keep that straw.
The company tried, but I still threw that straw away after one use.
Why I still use plastic straws for convenience.
For starters, I don’t use plastic straws daily. Or weekly for that matter.
When I want to sip on kombucha all day, I use a straw. Lemon water I like to use a straw. And my iced coffee drinks I make I like a plastic straw. It’s all vanity, really, because I don’t want to wreck my teeth with the acidity of these drinks.
Read More: How to Make Kombucha
And you know what?
I then wash my plastic straws.
Yep. I wash my disposable plastic straws. But if you’ve read some of my other articles, you know that I like to get lots of use out of disposable things like sour cream containers, carry-out clam shells, baggies and gas station coffee cups.
I have a set of pipe brush cleaners that I got from the baby section and use it to wash my straws. Once the straws get worn out or my child chews the end to bits, I toss it.
Can I just say that I bought a box of 100 straws four years ago and I’m only 3/4 of the way through them now!?
You know the other great thing about plastic straws?
I don’t have to worry about them getting returned to the kitchen. Little kids can have them in their smoothies they are enjoying outside and I don’t have to worry about losing a straw.
Or hitting a metal straw with the lawn mower.
Why I Still Use Plastic Straws in My Smoothies
Many summer afternoons I make a nutrient packed kefir smoothie for my son and I’s snack. As a wedding gift, we got these great Tupperware to-go cups with snap-on lids with a straw hole.
I put our smoothies in those cups and then we head to the barn to feed calves. My son can drop his smoothie without anything spilling and it’s easy for him to drink.
Read More: How to Make Kefir at Home
When our smoothies are gone, the dirty cups and straws sit in my car and bake in the afternoon sun until we head home.
Usually I can soak the straws in the first of my dish water and clean them out. I can see through the opaque plastic any chunks of smoothie still stuck in there. Knowing that my straw is clean (or not clean) gives me peace of mind as I put it back in the cupboard.
A metal straw does not allow you to see if it’s clean or not. If washing a plastic straw triggers your gross-factor, not being able to see if my straw is clean triggers my gross-factor!
But you should reduce your plastic use to save the planet!
Right, I get that plastic is not biodegradable and a threat to our wildlife. But forcing a change on an individual by banning or making a law won’t change the individual’s heart or stance on an issue.
That individual will go on living their life as they choose because there is no conviction or change of heart to affect action.
Personally, I think there are far more disturbing uses of plastic that should be considered atrocious than drinking straws:
- Pre-peeled oranges sold in clam shells
- Pre-cut watermelon sold in cups and containers
- Individually wrapped anything
- Cheap toys
- Grocery bags
Really, it’s all personal conviction on what plastic product you think is stupid.
That’s why I don’t think a ban on plastic straws or a ban on anything will change society’s plastic consumption. Each individual’s lifestyle will make up for that plastic straw in another way.
For me, a plastic straw ban means nothing because I don’t use them every day. Or a ban on plastic milk jugs because I don’t buy milk from the store. Or a ban on flip flops because I have my 11-year-old Chacos.
Read More: How to Start Getting Raw Milk
Just because I still use plastic straws doesn’t mean I don’t care.
Frankly, I don’t try reducing my waste because of popular culture, media and news.
I try reducing my waste because of what I learned from my grandmother and mother. They are the ones who taught me to:
- Wash zipper baggies.
- Wipe off aluminum foil.
- Wash out sour cream/yogurt/cottage cheese containers.
- Not use plasticware, paper plates or cups (My grandma would serve all our HUGE family meals without anything disposable. And she never had a dishwasher….just all her granddaughters!).
- Re-use grocery bags.
- Save scrap paper.
- Package and wrap things in old newspaper.
- Use cloth napkins.
- And many other frugal ways!
So I guess you could say I wash my plastic straws out of frugality rather than a plastic-conscious mind. Whatever your conviction for using or not using plastic straws, make sure it is yours so that you can maintain that lifestyle. Otherwise, after a few months, you’ll quit caring and move on.