Saturday, August 24, 2013

Product Review

-- Reusable Straws -- 

Andy and I started communicating about a review project for stainless steel drinking straws sold by the Eco-Straws Company ( back in early July and due to shipping delays we received the sample by the 23rd of July, which arrived by airmail in a small padded envelope. In the package there was a scoop straw (for things like smoothies), a straight straw and a curved straw. I was thrilled to see that the sample also came with a cleaning brush – it looks like a stiff, short bristled narrow bottle-brush on a wire handle that is about 19 cm. or 7.5 inches in length. 

The first thing my husband said when he saw these products – “these are fantastic, we have to buy some!” What I really liked about these stainless steel straws is that they are dishwasher friendly - we tried out the dishwasher option but found only the straight straw would work in our silverware section of the dishwasher, the other two items would fall through the grating. Interestingly, because these straws are stainless steel, they can be frozen or chilled to help keep cold drinks cold... but can also be served with hot drinks as well. So we’ve decided that we’ll purchase the thicker straight straws, which are a bit larger in diameter inside as well.

I’m personally a big fan of straws – I use them all the time and have been reusing plastic straws that come with soft drinks, smoothies and shakes at restaurants for some years now. I simply wash them with a small cleaning brush in hot soapy water after each use and air dry in the silverware bucket on the dish rack by my sink. However if the plastic straws aren’t cleaned right away liquids can dry inside them and this often results in an inability to keep them sterile. Sadly they cannot be placed in the dishwasher, and even with careful cleaning they can only be reused about a dozen or so times before they start to crack and then have to be recycled. I’d often wondered why no one had come up with a sustainable reusable straw product, so when I saw this company’s review request I was thrilled!

According to an Internet search on this topic straws were originally made from natural sources like rye up to 1888 when paper straws coated with wax became in use as the forerunner to today’s plastic ones.

Modern society often uses millions of disposable plastic straws when they visit corner stores, fast food and other restaurants – some families purchase them by the box – and sadly very few end up in the recycling bin even though the plastic (polypropylene #5) is recyclable. Plastics take a long time to break down on their own, and when they do break down they are just smaller bits of plastic still polluting the environment. If left on the ground they end up injuring animals via mistaken food particles that don’t digest or pass through their system. Large numbers of straws are left on beaches, or carried there by the water after being dropped by yachters, ferry users, boaters and cruise ship travelers. Straws can also mistakenly be carried to street runoff drains, or fall down a domestic drain causing havoc on route to their final destination – septic treatment centers or rivers and oceans

If the straws do get put in a trash bin, they only contribute to the plastic waste in landfills (which equates to an average of 25% of the volume in landfills). Besides this, plastics are a petroleum product that increases our dependence on foreign oil supply or unsustainable oil extraction like fracking and oil sand industries. Also consider the hidden environmental costs in the production of plastic straws from manufacturing to packaging, shipping, retail distribution and then (hopefully) recycling of plastic straws.

Because of the growing interest in healthy blended drinks, people are now taking the initiative to save money by making their own drinks… and buying those boxes of disposable straws – in fact stats show that there are hundreds of billions of plastic straws discarded annually in the US. With the growing zero waste initiatives across the globe there is also a growing awareness that even the smallest item can contribute to threats to the environment. In fact I have heard of several straw-free sustainability initiatives in Virginia and Arizona (US) and also in many London UK restaurants.

But straws are also essential for people who have physical challenges in regards to holding cups, and for people like myself who do a lot of interviews a straw prevents sounds coming through the microphone when taking sips of water. Females tend to love using straws because they prevent damage to lip gloss and other makeup. Also useful for people worried about staining their teeth with certain beverages, sensitive teeth, or damaged teeth and for people worried about the affects of acidic and sugary drinks.

Now I had read of glass straws that are reusable, but being glass, they’re breakable if dropped on a hard surface and can cloud over with frequent cycles in the dishwasher. For these straws it is recommended that people boil their glass straws occasionally to sterilize them. I’ve also heard of bio-friendly plastic free straws made of bamboo or corn, but have never seen them and I’m not sure if they’re as recyclable as traditional plastics. Most “biodegradable” plastic simply have starches in between plastic particles and break down more quickly (as opposed to estimated 180 years when buried in a landfill), but still result in those tiny plastic particles in the environment. (Interestingly, my cat loves plastic straws – she thinks they are the greatest toy ever!)

This company is justifiably proud of the products they provide their customers, and they offer them at such an attractive price point, too. You'll find everything from stainless steel ice cubes to sandwich picks to straws, cups and more there on the site ( Stainless steel is one of the most eco-friendly materials out there today – it has a long life and it is totally recyclable and can be recycled indefinitely (as opposed to plastic or paper fibers which loose integrity after awhile). I totally believe in investing in the future – so while one might pay a few cents more for a product like this, but a product like this will last them for their lifetime and in the end they’ll save money in reduced straw purchases and all the other hidden costs involved in producing and disposing of plastic straws. 

The only drawbacks I found with the products are that the scoop straw, while useful for shakes and smoothies, the straw portion is a little smaller then I'd prefer. Also the bent straw may end up causing issues for cleaning later on because of the bend in the straw itself. This is another reason why I personally prefer the straight straw. ...and one final comment - I did notice that if one isn't careful you could bump your tooth or pinch the lip between the straw and a tooth and because the straw is metal, it could be a bit uncomfortable. Regardless, I loved the product and fully intend to purchase a set of the straight straws for my family.

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  1. Nicely written blog with lots of information i like your comments and hard work to collect all news

  2. These kind of tools won't rust because it's stainless steel.

    1. Yes! and here in 2015 I'm still using the ones I purchased for myself after doing this review project :)


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