Last week, Foodbeast’s lead TikTokker/editor-in-chief Elie Ayrouth posted a video of an enormous, 1-pound bag of boba milk tea. Why exactly this product exists, I do not know. But, what I do know is that one of my favorite reactions to the video was a comment that asked him not about the boba, but about the environmental ethics behind his consumption of said gluttonous bag of tea. More specifically, the plastic straw he used was in question.
Now, I’m all for not using plastic. You’re talking to the person who used to force his coffeeshop coworkers to use glass cups with no straws while at work. But, if you see a bag of boba big enough to give someone a concussion should a fight come its way, and the first thing you think of is how wasteful the straw usage is, you might be on a path towards being overkill.
Anyways, as the Foodbeast editorial team sat in our meeting room and discussed this comment during our weekly meeting, we started to wonder: what ARE the best straw alternatives? Besides coming to a communal agreement that paper straws would be better off staying a tree, the results were varied. But, after much deliberation, here we have it, a power ranking of straws:
10. Biodegradable Plastic Straws
Ideally, biodegradable plastic straws would be the answer to all our problems, and would make this list irrelevant. But, like anything that sounds too good to be true, it is. These types of straws are only biodegradable in certain, commercial compost facilities, meaning you have to dispose of them in a way that definitely doesn’t include tossing it away with your iced coffee before you enter work, a fate similar to that of most of our straws.
9. Pasta Straws
Pasta straws are indeed highly functional, but they’re still single use and are ruined after an hour’s time. Pass.
8. Silicone Straws
Silicone straws are flexible, easy to clean, and heavily reusable. The only problem is most lend a distinct taste to any drink they’re served in. No flavor compliments everything you drink quite like an undertone of rubber, right?
7. Paper Straws
Personally, I have no qualms with most paper straws. In my experience, most paper straws take over an hour until they start becoming flimsy. But, alas, it seems as if the general consensus is that paper straws become soaked and useless after a couple minutes in liquid and have a weird “lip feel.”
6. Hay Straws
Surprisingly, straws are named after straw. Like, the stuff in hay bales. More surprisingly, there are companies selling straw straws. From my research, it seems as if they work well, too. The issue is that it’s difficult to produce a consistent product, as each stalk of straw grows to a different diameter. Until these are able to be mass produced, they’ll stay in the middle of the pack (hay bale, if you will).
5. No Straw
This would be higher up if it wasn’t for the active lifestyle that most people live. For sitting down at a meal, or kicking it at a coffee shop, no straw is the best straw. But, the moment you have to take a drink to go, choosing to go no straw turns your commute into a perilous mission.
4. Glass Straws
By all means, glass straws work great. Easy to clean, cheap, and essentially acting as an additional part to the glass you’re drinking out of, glass straws are amongst the best straw alternative options. But, while many glass straws are indeed tough, the off chance that a glass straw shatters in your bag, backpack, or drink brings it’s ranking down.
3. Sippy Lid
It’s like no straw, but with some protection from the elements. The only issue is that some people don’t feel right drinking things without a straw, apparently. For me, this is not an issue. But, hey, if you absolutely need a straw, who am I to judge?
2. Bamboo Straws
Sustainable, economical, smooth on the lips, and resistant to soaking, bamboo straws are about as good as it gets. The only downside is that they do eventually wear out, which brings them down to second on our list. But, on the bright side, it’s a stick. You can properly dispose of these straws by simply tossing it in the dirt.
1. Stainless Steel Straw
There’s really no downside to stainless steel straws. They’re hard to break, easily cleaned, not too expensive, and some come with silicone tips to give an improved lip feel. If you’re going to use a straw alternative (you should), this is the Foodbeast approved answer.