I’m old enough to remember, as a kid, paper straws before plastic became the norm. I have to tell you, I do not miss those old paper straws.
Oh they were okay for normal liquids like soda pop and water, but when you had a nice thick milk shake, malt or root beer float the darn straw would collapse on you in mid draw, collapsing a lung and making your face turn purple. They just were not durable or liquid proof enough to make it through an entire shake without failing.
I remember very distinctly when restaurants and fast food joints started giving out newfangled plastic straws and the glowing wonder on our faces when we could suck up an ultra thick malt, even with hunks of banana or strawberry in it and not have our cheeks turned inside out by Sudden Straw Collapse Syndrome. There was much cavorting about better living with plastics.
Little did we know we were creating a creeping doom.
I’ve looked into some alternatives for plastic straws:
Glass: maybe in the home, I’m skeptical they will work with kids.
Stainless Steel: cool. Washable good at home, I don’t think I would trust a stainless straw washed at a typical restaurant. I’ve looked at various collapsible types you are supposed to carry with you. That is a non-starter. I got too much stuff to carry on me now, I’m not adding a wet drippy straw that I have to take home and clean and remember to carry again.
Bamboo stalks: for one use, maybe. I’m dubious on this.
If we go back to paper, I suggest upping the game and make them out of waxed card stock or cardboard so they don’t collapse. We must not use paper that has a thin plastic film on it, that defeats the whole purpose.
Paper has it’s own environmental problems, but if done right it will be less bad than plastic straws. And paper does not have to come from trees, you can make paper out of bamboo and industrial hemp, both renewable resources. Both might be new crops for American farmers looking to diversify.
Whatever we use, we need to get rid of the plastic straws as quickly as possible.
The same holds true for the disposable plastic cups, glasses, swizzle sticks, and those plastic grocery bags too. Styrofoam has to go. Plastic utensils might take longer but I’m sure we can figure out something.
Most of this isn’t that hard, there was a time before plastics, we just have to look back at what used to work and bring that up to date. If the Federal government won’t lead, this is something the States can do. Let’s start experimenting and get rolling.