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A lot of beverages are difficult to drink without a straw such as smoothies and drinks with crushed ice to name two. If you're confined to a bed, that's another accessibility issue.

Plastic straws have joined single-use packaging as pollution and are about to be banned if they haven't been already.

Paper straws fall apart but are re-cyclable 100%. I recently overheard someone complaining that they've gone through six straws with one cocktail (leisurely sipped I assume).

Metal straws are a problem for a couple of reasons: portability - Who wants to carry them around? Where do I put it after I've used it? Cleaning it/them between drinks depends on where you are. Cleaning them causes more pollution and energy use - soap, hot water, Q-tips, brushes, more?.

I've been thinking about this… for minutes. I haven't come up with anything. What can be used (instead of/for) a drinking straw? Can there be no better alternatives?

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    My first thought was a child's sippy-cup, with a built-in straw ... but nobody wants a cocktail in a sippy cup. That's just weird. – BrettFromLA Aug 5 at 16:48
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    @BrettFromLA On the other hand, that could start a fashion trend. It would virtually eliminate spilled drinks. You definitely think out of the box, can, jug, etc. – Stan Aug 5 at 16:52
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    Twizzlers! Just cut off the top and bottom. That was our solution as kids ;) – Luke Sawczak Aug 7 at 2:45
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    Well, for Smoothie you can just use a small tea spoon. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Aug 8 at 7:09
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    @BrettFromLA otoh, nobody seems to have a problem with drinking coffee from a sippy-cup, aka to-go cup with lid. >.< – Stephie Aug 8 at 8:36
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My favorite solution is actually no tool - having observed the surge of drinks that get served with a straw, I still remember when it was perfectly acceptable to drink either out of a glass, cup or from the bottle (if you need instructions, ask your friendly beer-drinker). A straw was a fancy extra for special occasions. In many cases, a straw is more of a fashion statement than a tool.

For the cases where some support is advisable, it depends on the circumstances. If you are bed-ridden or physically impaired, there are various “sippy-cup” style drinking containers available. While a one-time investment, they are often very practical in design. Not exactly pretty, though.

If you just want a straw because you want one, there are several options, the one that can be simply composted is - drumrolls, please - real straw straws (random example)! Now who’d have thought... They are as green as it gets and quite a bit and sturdier than paper.

Reusable straws, as you already discovered, come in different materials and with their specific challenges when it comes to cleaning.

  • Now I am wondering - should I break this down in multiple posts? OTOH, different scenarios suggest different solutions... – Stephie Aug 5 at 21:53
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    +1 for wheat straw suggestion which is a natural (chuckle, chuckle). Most any re-useable stuff is either a problem producing it or dealing with it after its useful life. – Stan Aug 6 at 17:52
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    @Stan Glass can go in the dishwasher and stainless steel too - plus the sets often come with a thin brush. Bamboo is very resource-neutral but should better be washed by hand. – Stephie Aug 6 at 18:08
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    "real straw straws" As a former farm kid, I know that using a freshly picked straw has it's own flavor, which would change the flavor of the drink. I'm not sure how a dried straw would taste. I find it a little funny/ironic that the box says "the last straw you'll ever need" but has a qty of 50. I get what they're saying, but the fact it isn't reusable means it's not the "last" straw. lol – computercarguy Aug 15 at 18:20
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    Our canteen cafe stopped using plastic straws. But we found it was not easy to drink an ice coffee without. The cook then produced a pack of macaroni, which is excellent for cold drinks. – RedSonja Aug 16 at 6:36
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Table of current plastic straw substitutes, and how well they work

Taken from here, though this diagram has been floating around the net for a while. The effect straw bans have on disabled people has been an issue since those started. Short version is that there's no good substitute. The existing options are either designed to be reusable, which creates obvious logistical problems, or are paper/pasta straws, which don't hold up well.

  • This just complains that the alternatives aren't perfect, and claims that single-use plastic straws don't have any of these problems. Notwithstanding that this is untrue (SUPS are at minimum a choking hazard, costly and not always high-temp-safe) this doesn't present alternatives to using SUPS. – Nij Aug 10 at 9:34
  • It presents seven of the most common present alternatives, and shows their downsides. Even if you disagree with some of the entries, there is no drop-in replacement. – user3757614 Aug 10 at 15:55
  • This morning, I found straws made of Corn starch here i.redd.it/8nzsfq3bttf31.jpg – Stan Aug 11 at 15:46
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    That's not cornstarch, that's PLA plastic. The "biodegradable" ability of PLA is overrated. Those fall under single-use plastic straws, though the fact that they're "green" might help them survive a possible ban. – user3757614 Aug 11 at 16:22
  • This post could simply be construed as a rant against the ban on plastic straws. The question asks for viable alternatives. A list of non-viable alternatives is not an answer – Caius Jard Aug 13 at 11:16

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