Straws

Straws? Straws. We aren't talking straw-filled mattresses (we've covered those in a different post here). We are talking about straws you drink from, when you're sipping your sippy drinks (like that blueberry sangria over there).

Mostly, when we use straws, they are plastic and, as you've probably heard from reading elsewhere or from our posts on the topic, drinking from plastic is not a great idea. But, the question really starts with what straws are made of, which is...what?

What straws are made of

The vast majority of straws that we use are made from plastic. But, even plastic straws are made from a range of plastics. Historically, straws have been made from polystyrene, and many still are. You may recognize polystyrene as those straws that crack (I may be known to chew on straws, which did not make feel good while writing this piece, let me tell you). Polystyrene is the plastic found in many disposables, like Solo cups, some plastic dinnerware, and to-go containers. Polystyrene also contains a neurotoxin, styrene, that can also cause liver damage. (Beer pong sadface).

Some companies have switched to other plastics as a result. So there are straws increasingly made from polypropylene or polyethylene. And this is where the matter of plastic straws becomes more subjective. I am wary of plastics, in case you hadn't noticed, and I want to admit that bias. These two plastics (polypropylene and polyethylene) appear to be much safer than polystyrene, but it feels like the list of plastics to avoid is growing, with more joining the ranks of PVC, BPA, and polystyrene. And most of the time that you're using a straw, you don't have access to the type of plastic it's made from.

A lot of this lack of certainty is due to the type of research being performed. As former EWG senior scientist Dr. Anila Jacob told Web MD, most chemicals around our food are considered "safe", but that's mostly not because they've been proven safe - rather, they haven't been proven unsafe. 

"There is very little published research on the potential adverse health effects of chemicals that leach from plastic food containers, so it's difficult to say they're safe with any degree of certainty, especially with long-term use," says Jacob.

So, I like to steer clear of plastic as much as possible, and have some straw alternatives that seem swanky to me.

Bamboo Straws

These bamboo straws are made from whole bamboo that is not processed - they also can last for years, sparing your body a lot of plastic and helping the fish in the sea in the process.

Part of what makes the above straws great is that they are reusable. And, that means, like all reusable things, they require some cleaning. Now, we may vary in how much we want to clean things, but having a straw cleaner is handy. I have equivalents of these for bottles, and they come in handy for getting down in there. 

I want more than one! and throw in a cleaner please.

Now, you don't have to get the cleaner separately if you like either of these options. The cleaner comes included. 

References

Styrene. Occupational Safety and Health Agency. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/styrene/

Styrene. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=74

Pick Plastics Carefully. Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/research/healthy-home-tips/tip-3-pick-plastics-carefully

Drinking Straws. The Soft Landing. http://thesoftlanding.com/drinking-straws-getting-to-the-bottom-of-it/

Decoding the Mystery of Safer vs Toxic Plastics. The Soft Landing. http://thesoftlanding.com/decoding-the-mystery-of-safer-vs-toxic-plastic/

Hoffman, Matthew. Pots, Pans, and Plastics: A Shopper's Guide to Food Safety. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-guide-to-food-safety#1

Solo Plastic Cups. ULINE. https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-19462R/Cups/Solo-Party-Cups-16-oz-Red?pricode=WY568&gadtype=pla&id=S-19462R&gclid=Cj0KEQiA88TFBRDYrOPKuvfY2pIBEiQA97Z8MRCKlG9mMN53-GEyKigAIICFVi-MvLxjI3mtmK3lHIUaAgos8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds