Plastic Straws Suck: Let’s Look at the Alternatives

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

We started the Plastic Straws Can Suck It campaign over two years ago and well, we still think that plastic straws suck! However, since 2012, we have seen some great changes. Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park started a strict no plastic straws policy, various restaurants such as Texas Roadhouse went straw free, Xanterra Parks & Resorts launched its “Choose to be Straw Free” program and 11-year old, Milo Cress, inspired Colorado governor, John W. Hickenlooper, to declare a statewide ‘Straw Free Day’ on July 11, 2013.

Plastic straws might seem like a small factor in comparison to the enormous amounts of waste and plastic being dumped in our landfills every day, but it gives us an idea of how little things can actually make a big difference to our planet.

Did You Know?

If everyone uses one straw every day for 10 years, you end up throwing 3,650 straws in the landfill. Not only are these plastic straws terrible for our environment, they are affecting our health too. Straws contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastic which mimics the activity of hormones, such as estrogen, in the body, which can lead to reproductive disorders, breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.

Therefore, switching to reusable items and recycling when possible can dramatically help reduce the amount of waste piling up in landfills and benefit your health.

What Can You Do?

Next time you are out for dinner at your favorite restaurant, say NO to that plastic straw handout! Or perhaps, you can take a note out of Milo Cress’ book and convince the restaurant manager to go ‘straw free’ or suggest that they consider using an alternative. Let’s look at some examples.


ALTERNATIVES TO PLASTIC STRAWS. Of course, there are tons of alternative straws out there but below are some of our favorites!


1. Paper Straws. 

Trendy, cool and fun. Paper straws are a great alternative to plastic, especially for restaurants and other venues as they are eco-friendly and inexpensive. Most importantly these straws are biodegradable. Not only are they better for our environment, but they are becoming increasingly popular too. They come in all different colors and patterns, and more and more people are using paper straws for their parties, weddings and events. 

ISF Paper Straws Photo

2. The Most Durable Straw Award Goes to . . . Titanium Straws! 

This straw is probably the best alternative for your personal use. It is the strongest straw out of all of the alternatives; it’s odorless, non-allergenic and it won’t corrode. You can take it anywhere with you, and it is dishwasher safe. There is no doubt that this straw will attract attention and will be a great conversation piece at the table.

ISF Titanium Straw

3. Stainless Steel Straws. 

This alternative straw is great to keep at home for your friends and family to reuse. Stainless steel is not as durable as titanium; but it is cheaper, which means you can get more for your money. These would be great straws to take with you to school, work or even out for dinner.

stainless-steel-drink-straws ISF

4. Glass Straws. 

Do you want straws that really rock? Glass straws do! There are so many to choose from. Take a look at suppliers such as Simply Straws; a Californian store that hand makes their glass straws. Their products are BPA free, non-toxic, reusable, and durable. With a lifetime guarantee, you can’t go wrong!

Glass Straws ISF

5. Bamboo Straws. 

This alternative is an unusual one but oh so natural! Bamboo drinking straws are eco-friendly and made from real whole bamboo stalks. They are good for you and the Earth. Be sure to purchase the straws that come packaged in a bag that is made from plants that is 100% compostable.

ISF Bamboo Straws



With so many great alternatives to plastic straws, avoiding the use of this toxic plastic is simple. Watch this short one-minute clip and see for yourself just how easy it is to say no to plastic straws.

Share your favorite alternative straw with us via Twitter @ISFYOUTH1. Or perhaps you’ve done away with straws all together? Either way, we’d love to hear from you!

Readers, please remember that this article is provided subject to our terms and conditions.   

Written by Ashlea Green, ISF Youth Coordinator 


August 2017 UPDATE:

ISF is continuing support of the mission against water pollution by working to move society away from the unnecessary use of plastic straws via our newest #FinalStraw campaign and through our collaboration with The Loney Whale Foundation and their Strawless Ocean campaign. Join the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and take the Lonely Whale Foundation's #StopSucking challenge.