It seems these past few months have ushered in the slow decline, and possible demise, of plastic straws. What started as kind of a slow burn caught some serious fire when it was announced that Starbucks will retire plastic straws in all of its cafes by the year 2020. All of a sudden, folks were jumping on the paper or biodegradable straw bandwagon: some touting the fact that they’d quit plastic years ago, and some recognizing the moment as a chance to go a little greener.
Though some of the data about the number of plastic straws in landfills has been traced back to a nine-year old kid’s school project and partially debunked, putting less plastic into the waste stream is a positive step for the restaurant industry. There has also been a learning curve in the mainstream about the essential help that plastic straws can provide for people with disabilities — and maybe it doesn’t need to be a full-on “ban,” if some people rely on plastic straws to safely eat and drink — but we maintain that it’s a good thing to have options for less plastic.
We’ve heard about plenty of Pennsylvania restaurants adopting paper straws, like The Avenue Deli in Lansdowne, Brick & Brew in Media, Lily Asian Cuisine and Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, The Goat’s Beard in Wayne, Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden in Exton and Horse Inn in Lancaster. In Philly, Herman’s Coffee sells stainless-steel reusable straws for just 50 cents, and Hungry Pigeon is phasing out straws altogether!
A frequent complaint about paper straws is that they disintegrate quickly, and, after a recent trip to the new plant-based Honest Tom’s in West Philadelphia, we can report that our paper straw did, indeed, fall apart only halfway through our (incredibly refreshing) house-made limeade. (It really takes something away from the pleasure of drinking when you’re constantly picking bits of paper off your tongue … but is that really an excuse to stay with plastic?)
With all this in mind, we were curious to try a new brand of compostable straw from Repurpose Compostables, a brand that makes single-use plates, utensils, cups, napkins and more from non-toxic, BPA-free and 100% plant-based materials. The materials are compostable within 90 days in an industrial composting facility. One of the biggest selling points for these straws are their durability and ability to bend and flex — all things that are sacrificed with paper straws.
We got a box of Repurpose’s straws and let our team try them out. Here’s some of their feedback:
“This seems like a very legit straw to me.” – Jay
“Little thinner than a normal straw — not sure if a thick milkshake would work with this, but for any other beverage they are great.” – Rich
“I wouldn’t think this was anything other than a plastic straw. It’s great.” – Jason
“My kids use straws all of the time. They would love these and never notice a difference.” – Joe
“I’d absolutely buy these plant-based straws now that I know they exist.” – Jenny
“My wife and I have switched to metal straws at home, which are great, but I prefer these! I like the feel of these, the flexibility and how lightweight they are.” – Steve
“Paper straws are great, but when they collapse quickly and block fluids it can be a hassle. Using metal straws eases my mind a bit, but it’s difficult to get the residue from smoothies or juice pulp out, and sometimes the metal straws can hurt if I’m sipping something quickly. These straws have no disadvantages, they are awesome!” – Mary
“It feels no different than a normal plastic straw. It bends nicely.” – Anna
An affordable solution for keeping it clean and green at home, during parties or on the road — we’ll say cheers to that! For more info on Repurpose products, visit its website.
Have you found eco-friendly straws, or other formerly disposable items, that you’re loving? Which restaurants and cafes in your community have stopped using plastic? Let us know!
- Photos and animated GIFs: Dish Works