A whopping 300 million tons of plastic are produced every single year, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). And at least 8 million tons of the stuff litters our precious oceans annually, ending up in the stomachs (and noses) of wildlife and even making its way into the food we eat. Half of all plastic is designed to be used just once, per the IUCN, which includes shopping bags, cups, and yes, our beloved drinking straws.
An estimated 390 million straws are used each day just in the U.S. alone. By 2050, plastic could outweigh all the fish in the world’s oceans. We’re neck-deep in plastic (and, you know, an environmental crisis) without an obvious solution. No amount of individual action can have the same impact that regulation does, but cutting out disposable straws can be a way to make a small difference in our own lives.
A few years ago, the backlash grew so large that cities like Washington, D.C. and Seattle began phasing out single-use straws entirely. Late last summer, Starbucks officially ditched single-use straws in its stores. As we redefine our relationship with plastic, single-use plastic straws will likely become less and less common.
Here’s the issue: Straws, when they’re not actively harming the environment, are actually beneficial. Besides their obvious convenience, they’re crucial for people living with disabilities, who might not be able to lift a drink high enough to sip or hold an open cup without spilling.
Straws are also better for our teeth; one study found that people who drank soda through a straw had much less acidic plaque than those who didn’t use one, leaving their mouths less primed for tooth discoloration and decay. Straws aren’t the enemy—single-use plastic is. That’s why reusable straws are so important: They deliver all the benefits of their single-use counterparts without the downsides.
Hear us out: Picking a straw is actually harder than it may seem. Consider the consistency and the temperature of the beverages you sip most often, and make sure that your reusable straw of choice has the right width and materials for them. Also important is your cup or glass—will your straw fit inside any holes it has? Here’s a brief breakdown of your options:
?? Stainless steel: Metal reusable straws come in plenty of materials, but stainless steel is the most common. It’s durable and easy to clean, but some people notice a metallic taste when drinking through it. Metal conducts heat more than other options, meaning it’ll heat up in hot drinks and cool down in cold ones.
?? Silicone: Like single-use plastic’s more sustainable cousin, silicone straws are flexible and snugly fit into tight spaces, although some people find they’re too bendy. Silicone is the best option to protect your teeth if you have a straw-biting habit, and it doesn’t heat up as much when drinking hot beverages.
?? Glass: With none of the potential taste or chemicals from metal or plastic, glass is a dishwasher-safe material that also happens to look really good. By its very nature, glass is sensitive to temperature changes and pressure, meaning it can break when put through too much stress.
Beyond these materials, other options like ultra-sustainable bamboo and affordable hard plastic are also available for sippers who crave something else. Now that you know what to look for, shop these top-rated reusable straws below (and check out other ways to shrink your carbon footprint).
Best Metal Straws
Hiware Reusable Stainless Steel Straws, 12-Pack
With an unbelievable 24,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, these reusable metal straws are the real deal. The pack includes two brushes (very handy if you’re a smoothie lover) and 12 straws in varying lengths and shapes that’ll work with any glass, tumbler, or cup. They’re “exactly what I hoped they be,” one reviewer writes.
Best Value Metal Straws
Thrive Market Stainless Steel Straws, 2-Pack
These 9.5-inch straws are a good size for most drinks and come in a convenient two-pack, but we especially like them since they come from Thrive Market, a certified B Corporation. They’ve also earned a 4.7-star average off of nearly 900 reviews—not too shabby!
Best Silicone Straws
Flathead Reusable Silicone Drinking Straws, 10-Pack
Amazon shoppers love these affordable silicone straws, which clock in at less than a dollar a pop with a cleaning brush and carrying case. Buyers say their flexibility can take a bit to get used to, but they fit almost any opening and work especially well for folks with degenerative diseases.
Best Metal-Silicone Straws
OXO Stainless Steel Straws, 4-Pack
Combining the durability of metal straws with the flexibility and temperature control of silicone, these hybrid straws have earned a near perfect rating on Amazon. Reviewers love that they come apart for cleaning with the included brush, then slip back together when dry.
Best Reusable Straw for Hot Drinks
Designed specifically for hot beverages, the Koffie Straw prevents coffee and tea from staining your teeth and fits into the holes of coffee lids with ease. Reviewers give it a 4.9-star rating at Package Free, raving that the silicone doesn’t get hot, unlike metal straws.
Best Glass Straws
Urban Outfitters Glass Straws, 4-Pack
These angled glass straws add designer-y whimsy to any beverage, and they’re even dishwasher-safe. One reviewer calls them “the best you can buy,” saying they’re “super easy to clean” with the included brush. We’re willing to bet anything tastes a little better through these.
Best Reusable Smoothie Straw
Stainless Steel Bubble Tea Straw
Most smoothies are tough to sip through a straw, at least without working overtime. This half-inch-wide straw (with a 4.8-star rating at Package Free) makes life way simpler—and its width makes it easy to clean, meaning no leftover smoothie bits stuck inside.
Best Reusable Boba Straws
Teivio Stainless Steel Boba Straws, 2-Pack
Forego plastic bubble tea straws and opt for these wide metal ones, which have angled tips for piercing through lids. “The straws and the cleaning brushes are great, as are the carrying cases,” one reviewer says. Plus, they’ve earned more than 300 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Best Reusable Cocktail Straws
Hålm Glass Straws, 6-Pack
Cocktails deserve their own shorter straws, and these classic ones do the trick. Reviewers rave that they make drinking fun—even if your drink of choice is coffee or a smoothie. And they’re clear, making it easy to tell when they need another round in the dishwasher.
Best Bamboo Straws
Public Goods Bamboo Straws, 6-Pack
This six-pack of eco-friendly bamboo straws from sustainable brand Public Goods comes in at less than $1 per piece, plus a carrying case and brush. Buyers rave that each straw is unique and great for smoothies—but most are probably a little too small for boba. Everything else? You’re golden!
Best Collapsible Straw
Sukk Collapsible Straw & Case
Most collapsible straws aren’t winning any beauty pageants, but this option from Sukk actually looks good. With a vegan leather case, a mini-brush, and a silicone tip, this stainless steel straw expands to fit drinks big and small—including, one reviewer writes, Starbucks Ventis.
Best Hard Plastic Straws
Reusable Plastic Straws, 32-Pack
Hard plastic straws are popular among devotees of tumblers and Mason jars, thanks to their big width and stopper ridges. You really can’t argue with paying 20 cents per straw—just make sure you don’t mess up your environmental karma and treat these things as disposable.
Best Reusable Straws for Kids
Amalka + Albert Silicone Straws, 4-Pack
These color-coded, dishwasher-safe straws are ideal for eco-conscious families. Unlike rigid materials like metal and glass, silicone straws are easy on teeth and won’t hurt them during accidents. “Kids love them,” one reviewer says, “and most importantly, they are easy to clean.”
Best Reusable Silly Straws
Trece Cielos Wobbly Glass Drinking Straw
These handmade glass straws are practically begging to be photographed, and with colors like emerald, gold, and lavender, who are we to resist? Better yet, they’re made with ultra-durable borosilicate glass, meaning they’re resistant to temperature shock.
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