When I turned 21, a friend of my grandmother’s took me out for an official drink. She ordered us each a Bacardi on the rocks, with a twist of lime and extra ice. When the bartender put the drinks in front of us, the first thing she did was pull the double drink straws out of her glass. “I never want to see you drinking out of one of these,” she instructed me. I mentally bookmarked that lesson in cool, and have since been in the habit of requesting no straw whenever I’m presented with a mixed drink. My aversion to straws has been cemented by their environmental impact: It’s been reported that Americans use half a billion straws a day (enough straws to fill up Yankee Stadium), much of which ends up in the ocean.
While cocktail straws were easy for me to give up, iced-coffee straws posed more of a problem. Ordering my La Colombe without a lid or a straw is a dangerous and potentially very spilly proposition. While poking around on Amazon one day, I found a solution: Greens Steel’s metal straws. I opted for a four-pack — it comes with two straight and two curved straws, as well as a brush for cleaning. I brought them to the office with me the day after they arrived, and immediately gave one to my office coffee buddy — who agrees that the straw is magnificent.
I keep these in my tote bag (if you are worried about them getting dirty, I suggest a pencil pouch), and whip them up out whenever I’m at a coffee shop. Once at Starbucks, a talkative barista commented on my straw. “Hey, I’m with you,” he told me. “You’d hate to work here. You see how wasteful people are from behind this counter.” I’ll be gifting them to all of my friends for World Oceans Day on June 8.
If you’re looking for other well-reviewed reusable and sustainable straws, here’s the lowdown according to hyperenthusiastic Amazon reviewers.
Best eight-inch metal straws
“I had a difficult time finding normal-size reusable straws, so these are perfect! Most of the ones I found were extra large, for 20- or 30-ounce tumblers, but I wanted regular old straw size like the disposables you’d buy at the store. I use a straw pretty much every day and I hated always throwing them away, so I would wash and reuse them a few times. They are very close in size to the disposable ones and have a nice bend to them. I was worried they would get too cold when I drink or too hot when I wash, but they don’t. I was also concerned that they’d give a metallic taste to my drinks, but I haven’t noticed any.”
Best glass straw
“Who gets excited about glass straws?! Apparently I do. To be honest, I bought these ‘cause I’m a bit of an econerd and they look cute on people’s Instagrams. They are thick enough that I don’t feel like they’re hard to drink out of or too fragile. Additionally, they’re tall enough that the bend is never too short in my normal glasses or big mason jars when I use them. All in all, they make my smoothies a little more fun and enjoyable to drink and just make things look nicer.”
Best silicone straw
“These straws are WONDERFUL. I drink tea with lemon every morning — a LOT of lemon; I’m a touch obsessed — and I’ve been repeatedly warned of the effects that can have on my teeth. Originally, I bought a stainless-steel straw; not really great for hot beverages, since it heats up pretty quick. So I went back and bought these straws and I love them! I can drink hot beverages without melting my lips off, and I don’t have to worry about killing off my enamel or getting coffee stains. Unfortunately, the straws don’t kill off the funny looks I get for drinking out of a hot cup with a straw.”
Best biodegradable paper straw
“Bought these to use for my daughter’s upcoming wedding. Tested one out to see if they would get soggy or not. The half in the glass of lemonade was slightly softer than the dry top half, but that was after an hour-long soaking. Still worked! Quite impressed! The paper feels different than we’re used to on our lips … not slippery like plastic. Not bad, just different. These are so much better for the environment, too.”
Best extra-long metal straw
“I love these straws! I wish I knew about these earlier. I cringe to think about all of the plastic straws that my family has wasted. I have sensitive teeth, and have absolutely no reaction using these straws. They don’t taste like anything, which was another of my concerns. It may be in my head, but the metal straws makes some drinks seem like they’re colder than normal. Ice-cold water is my go-to drink, and these are great for that.”
Best extra-long glass straw
“Love these!! I rave about them to my co-workers. I need something to help me drink more water, and a straw has been the best way. I hate the taste of metal, and plastic is just bad in the long run, so glass is the clear choice. Plus, everything just tastes better out of glass. A friend mentioned that you can probably even drink bubble tea with it.”
Best extra-long silicone straw
“If you use a 40-ounce-size water bottle, then this is the straw for you. I have to fold about an inch of it to get it in the bottle; however, that’s okay. Once I open my water bottle, it pops right out for me to drink from. This is a great help, too, because I usually make a mess drinking from the large-size water bottle.”
Best extra-wide metal straw
“I love thick, milkshakelike smoothies, and had been using disposable boba straws to drink them. I came across these when I ran out of straws. I thought I would try them. In short, I love these. They can handle my thick, frozen smoothies with ease. They also feel more efficient than the typical boba straws that have the angled cut at the bottom — I’m getting every last drop out of my glass.”
Best extra-wide glass straw
“These straws are just what we needed! They ACTUALLY fit bubbles or boba, unlike some others I bought a couple years ago somewhere else. They are very large and sturdy and work perfectly for our homemade bubble tea. Now, all we need is a cup with a hole that fits them for the ultimate green-bubble-tea experience!”
Best extra-wide silicone straw
“So far, so good. The straws are extremely rigid and feel like they’ll hold up over time. I haven’t tried drinking bubble tea with them yet, but I can’t see that being a problem, given that the diameter at least matches that of a boba straw (it might even be a hair wider). If you make a lot of smoothies or shakes, I can’t imagine a better straw, really. I would choose this over steel, glass, or paper any day.”
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