Why straws suck, in more ways than one

I am more of a wine or beer drinker, so I don’t often get into a situation where I am staring at my drink going, "Oh s**t I forgot to ask for no straw". But I can be partial to the odd cocktail every now and then, especially when on holiday.

Straws are one of those unnecessary plastic disposable items that can’t be recycled. Some of the most powerful imagery I have seen highlighting the impact of plastic on the environment has involved straws - a great example of this is the video of a marine biologist pulling a straw out of a turtle’s nose, the last place we should be finding a straw.  And because they are made from plastic, you can be sure that every straw you have ever used will be around for a very long time after it's been thrown in the bin.

One of my first frustrations with straws after starting down my path to a waste-free lifestyle was ordering a glass of water at a bar - as the bartender picked up the glass to hand it to me,  he casually just threw in a plastic straw. Obviously, this was just normal for him, but I hope you all agree with me when I say you definitely don’t need a straw to drink a glass of water! Caught off guard and slightly annoyed at what I had just seen, I quickly said, “oh no, no straw” waving my hands in the air with a look of distress on my face. Looking at me in confusion the bartender whipped out the straw and threw it straight in the bin, the single-use item didn’t even get used.  Fail.

Straws Suck Plastic Straw fail

One of my few plastic straw fails

After a few mishaps I finally got the knack of making sure I ask for no straw when ordering a drink, and nowadays I am also good at making sure anyone with me goes straw free as well. Yes, my friends get a very friendly reminder to say no to straws.

I have had people behind the bar look at me funny, mainly because they don’t understand why I am saying no. I have even had people confirm with me multiple times that I don’t want a straw (I later realised it’s because the drink came in a fish bowl-shaped glass with a narrow opening, not so easy and glamorous to drink from if you don’t have a straw). But staying true to my values, I powered through the awkwardness in an effort to avoid the use of a disposable straw.

The Eco Society Straw Free Straws Suck

Straw free cocktails, Greece | 2017
My favourite story was when we were in Greece. The whole group ordered cocktails, as you do at a cocktail bar. I placed my order, careful to ask for no straw, then our next friend placed his order. Hesitating a bit and looking at me like he was questioning, “should I or shouldn’t I”, he ended up also asking for no straw – to my delight, everyone else around the table followed suit when placing their order, asking for no straw! The guy taking our order came back to ask why no straws and I was all too happy to explain it to him. The best thing about this story is it started the conversation and inspired others to say no to single-use plastic.
CaliWoods Metal reusable Straw

My reusable metal straws | CaliWoods, NZ

There are more and more options available now as well, with lots of places stocking reusable straws made from glass, bamboo or metal - take your pick.  Throw it in your bag and remember to say, “Please, no straw” (even for your friends). I now carry a reusable metal straw in my bag and a few extras for my friends. It doesn’t get used often, but if I ever have a cocktail in a fishbowl shaped glass I will be very grateful that I came prepared.

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