I am always searching for ways to eliminate plastic waste in the household. As a daily smoothie and fresh juice drinker, one of the easiest ways to do this is by using bamboo drinking straws.
So why should you use bamboo drinking straws? Bamboo drinking straws are all-natural and reusable making them one of the easiest ways to eliminate plastic waste in your household. Bamboo is a safe and natural alternative that doesn’t endanger marine life or pollute the environment.
With drinks on-the-go every day, I was really concerned when I noticed how many plastic straws I was consuming. Making the switch from a plastic to a bamboo drinking straw is super simple and full of benefits. It’s one of the easiest steps you can take towards helping solve the plastic waste problem on our planet.
Why Bamboo Drinking Straws?
If you are familiar with bamboo you may know a thing or two about its sustainable benefits as a renewable resource:
- Natural and biodegradable – from the earth, back to earth! When you decide to dispose of your bamboo products, they are biodegradable and will return to the earth’s soil.
- Antibacterial and chemical-free – is grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Its natural antibacterial properties make it less resistant to rotting or carrying bacteria.
- Eco-friendly – bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than trees and actually helps absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
It’s estimated that nearly 170-390 million disposable plastic straws are used by Americans every day – which comes to 63 billion to 142 billion straws per year! These numbers are staggering when you think about where this plastic will end up.
The good news is that nature provides us with the perfect solution without having to destroy our environment with environmentally harmful plastic waste. Here are some benefits of using a bamboo drinking straw versus its wasteful plastic counterpart:
- Durability – there no sharp edges, no risk of breakage. You can simply toss your straw in your bag and take it with you on-the-go. They are child-friendly with smooth edges that won’t cause any irritation when using. They can be used for both hot or cold beverages.
- Cost-effective – the amount you will spend on a pack of bamboo drinking straws will be a fraction of what you would spend on a lifetime of using plastic straws.
- Safe – plastic straws are made from the chemical polypropylene which is FDA food-safe, but there is evidence that it leach into liquids and contaminate them.
- Reusable – a bamboo drinking straw will last a lifetime when properly cleaned and cared for. Re-using plastic straws is not sanitary and can lead to the build-up of harmful bacteria and germs.
- Dishwasher safe – many bamboo drinking straws are safe to wash at high temperatures in the dishwasher.
- Antibacterial – bamboo is naturally antibacterial meaning it will not harbor bacteria over time due to moisture build-up.
- Beautiful – aesthetically pleasing bamboo drinking straws are eye-catching and a fun accent to any drink.
What to Look for in a Bamboo Drinking Straw
There are dozens of brands of bamboo drinking straws on the market. Here are a few things to look for when you are ready to buy:
- Length – think about what sort of vessel you will be drinking out of. Do you drink hot or cold liquids with a straw? Depending on your preference, you will want to measure out and choose a bamboo drinking straw that is the correct length. Most brands make straws that fit a standard 12-16 oz water glass. I always use mine for my fresh kale and apple juice in the morning out of a 16oz (473ml) cup.
- Diameter – If you are drinking a thicker liquid such as smoothies or milkshakes make sure you choose a wider straw. If you plan to only drink less-dense beverages like water, tea, coffee, or juice, a thin straw will be appropriate. I am a big smoothie drinker so I prefer to have straws with a wider diameter. When in doubt, go wider!
- Packaging – since you are buying a bamboo drinking straw to eliminate plastic waste, make sure the packaging for your bamboo drinking straw is biodegradable or compostable.
- Finish – bamboo drinking straws come in two options, ones that are polished to create a durable exterior that is dishwasher-safe or an unfinished option that consists of the natural bamboo fibers. To ensure a safe and chemical-free straw, look for a bamboo drinking straw that does not contain any dyes and/or toxic chemicals. The finish will determine how you can clean the straws. If you want a straw that can be placed in the dishwasher, look for straws that have been finished as untreated straws will deteriorate in the dishwasher.
- Cleaning brush – some brands have straw packs that come with a handy nylon cleaning brush. These consist of a long wire rod with a head of bristles and the end. If you are opting for thin and narrow straws, it is recommended to have a brush to get inside of the straw to scrub. If you plan on using your straw for smoothies or milkshakes definitely make sure you get a straw set with a cleaning brush.
- Pack size – many straws are sold in packs of 4-12. I first bought a 4-pack to test them out and was very satisfied. I have since bought several packs of 10 so each member of the family can have a few straws of each size.
How to Clean and Care for Your Bamboo Straw
So you’ve got yourself a pack of stylish reusable bamboo drinking straws, you’ve just had your favorite smoothie, and now you’ve got a straw to clean!
A high-quality set such as NaturalNeo Bamboo Straws (link to read reviews on Amazon), can last for years when properly cleaned and cared for, however, if neglected they will have a limited lifespan.
Follow these simple instructions to ensure the longevity of your bamboo drinking straws:
- Rinse immediately after use to avoid getting anything stuck in the straws.
- Use the cleaning brush or pipe cleaner to remove any grit or food remains.
- Handwash with lukewarm soapy water. You can also shake the straws in a jar full of warm soapy water for cleaning many at once.
- If your bamboo drinking straw is finished with a polish, it can be used in a dishwasher.
- Don’t expose your straw to extreme heat for a prolonged period.
Tips to remember:
- Always let your straws dry fully before storing or reusing.
- Dry them flat, not standing up, so water does not collect at the bottom.
- Store your straws in a well-ventilated place and never in airtight containers or jars to prevent excess moisture build-up.
For unfinished natural bamboo fiber straws, I recommend polishing the outside of the straw with coconut oil about every 10 uses. You can also soak your straws in hot water and vinegar for a few minutes once a month to keep your straw in top condition.
Safety note: since bamboo is a natural and organic material, it will eventually begin to fray and splinter over time even when well-cared for. If you have small children, be sure to inspect the bamboo drinking straw for splinters or rough edges before use.
There will be a day when it is time to dispose of your bamboo drinking straw. The good news is that you can toss it in the compost pile instead of the garbage can. This will allow it to break down naturally into the soil. You’ve now done your part in helping prevent excess plastic waste in the environment!
How long does a bamboo drinking straw last? When properly cared for, a bamboo drinking straw can last up to 2-3 years depending on use. I recommend you replace your straw when you notice any significant discoloration, change in taste, or any splintering or cracking.
Where can I buy a bamboo drinking straw? Most online retailers for the home and kitchen will sell a variety of different brands with packs of bamboo drinking straws. Be sure to do your homework to make sure you buy the straws that fit your needs (see above).
Are bamboo straws safe? Bamboo drinking straws are much safer to use than single-use plastic straws as they are chemical-free and less likely to harbor harmful bacteria. They also can be safely used with both hot and cold liquids.