Over the past couple of years I started relying on straws more and more to encourage me to drink more water. We go through bouts of making morning smoothies in this house and our kids always preferred straw cups to sippy cups, so we generally have straws on hand. I like to use straw cups, or put a disposable straw in my Nalgene bottles and use it for a few days before washing and restarting with a new straw. This past year my husband started in on a straw kick. He was going through a few straws per day. We bought him his own straw cup for water, he likes it, and it has made a difference in cutting down how many disposable straws we dispose of.
I’m fairly eco-conscious and shift our lifestyles more and more that way, but I mostly just do what does and doesn’t make sense for our family as it comes along and I’m not necessarily looking for alternatives everywhere. But even with using the straw cups, going through 10 additional disposable straws in a house in a day just seemed totally ridiculously wasteful (not a household average, but I can’t say it didn’t happen) and in the end not entirely cost efficient (even though straws really aren’t that expensive). I can’t say for all of the other waste we produce I was as unsettled about the amount of non-recylced plastic waste, but there is that too. We’d use disposable straws because we preferred them for drinking water, but then we’d be all out when we “needed” them for things that deserve straws, like smoothies or milkshakes.
It turns out there is a small anti-straw movement. You are supposed to refuse them at restaurants if you care about the world – making sure to mention it when you walk in, like a food allergy, just in case they accidentally give you one and have to throw it out anyway.
We’ve broke, bent or melted some of our straws from the straw cups through running them through the dishwasher. So I googled “re-usable straws.” And was introduced the world of glass straws. The idea sort of made me cringe a little, especially thinking about the feel of my mouth on glass like that and also the fear of breakage. The other alternative was stainless steel, but I’m not sure I could ever get used metal on my mouth, or not being able to see inside to make sure it was clean or nothing was growing in there. After a couple months of thinking about it, I put some glass straws on my Amazon wish list.
I got my first set of glass straws for a Christmas present. It didn’t at all take as much getting use to as I anticipated. My husband uses them too, but says he’s not totally used to it yet. I bought a second set with a gift card I had to compare.
They feel pretty hearty, not entirely fragile. I really like the inner diameter, it’s makes for sucking up a good amount of fluid at a good rate for me.
I have a “germ thing,” so I really like being able to run them through the dishwasher to wash them. I wouldn’t have wanted them if they weren’t dishwasher safe, they’d never seem clean to me. Every set I’ve seen on Amazon comes with cleaning brushes to scrub out things like smoothies that may make for a sticky inside.
I don’t like that I can’t fold them to close the lid on my Nalgene bottle and take them places like I could with a disposable straw. My husband doesn’t like that he tends to want to bite them, which grosses him out and scares him that the straw will break or he will chip his teeth, but not enough that he doesn’t use them full time now.
I’ve put an unprotected glass straw in my purse twice when I carried my water bottle with glass straw sticking out to the car and then realized I had it and wanted to close the lid on my water bottle. I forgot the straws were in my purse and went about my day handling my purse as though there wasn’t glass inside of it. Neither straw broke.
I did end up breaking two straws. I was holding one in my mouth while refilling my water bottle and when I started talking to my son about laundry the straw slipped out of my mouth and smashed onto the floor. We had wondered if the straws would crack or shatter and it did shatter, but not too many tiny pieces. With the other break I was gathering all of the straws up to look at them all together and a Cool Gear straw was in the pile and when I tried to segregate the plastic interloper one of the glass straws jumped out of my hand and did shatter into many little pieces. I didn’t like that, but think you just have account for breakage when dealing with glass straws and fumble-y hands. I threw out the remains of both (didn’t recycle), so not sure how that works out waste/carbon footprint wise compared to using and throwing out disposable plastic straws!
I’m not entirely sure I would be someone who brings a glass straw to a restaurant or Starbucks or on vacation (some people have cases for them that looks like eyeglass cases). On the other hand, years ago I read how dirty/germy straws can be when handed to you at restaurants after touching a few sets of server/preparer/bartender hands, and I am getting pretty used to drinking from these straws, so I just may get there.
Of the two sets/brands of glass straw I tried, I prefer colored set. The clear set seems a tad wider and the top section after bend doesn’t seem the correct proportions to me visually. On the other hand, as I type this I have my 1L Nalgene bottle with one of the clear straws sitting on my desk and the straw very comfortably reaches my mouth encouraging lots of hydration with no hands needed or much head bending, so in this situation it’s perfect. Neither fit straw brand into the hole on our Cool Gear plastic cups to replace the plastic straws there, but both do fit into a Tervis cup lid hole.
You would really need shorter straws for cups or water bottles that aren’t huge/tall, and I’d imagine you should only use them in heavy cups so they don’t tip over the cup when you set it down (otherwise you’d have to take out the straw and lay it on your table and who wants to pick up those kind of germs!) Since we use them almost exclusively for big containers of water, these are great for us.
Here are the two sets that I got if you are interested (Amazon affiliate links):