Carrying your own reusable straw is like the gateway drug to plastic-free living. Once you get a taste of the empowerment you feel from doing the right thing for our environment, you begin to notice all of the other unnecessary disposables and single-use items cluttering up (destroying) our world. Taking the next step to avoid all single-use plastic is inevitable. Plastic-free living is your next challenge but oh-so rewarding and then for our hardcore vigilantes leading us in the direction we must head, we have zero-waste living. So. Much. Respect.
OK, don't get overwhelmed- you can start with a straw! Our planet is thanking us for our massive switch to re-using our belongings. So much progress has been made in the last year alone. I was at a festival recently where there was also a glass straw vendor and a booth handing out metal straws. I proudly outfitted many virgin reusable straw owners with universal reusable straw cases at my booth along with educating them on my do's and don'ts for straw use and care.
When I started carrying my own reusable utensils in 2015 and even when I began making Reusable Straw Cases in 2017, most people had not thought about carrying their own straw and plastic pollution.The tide is turning and I have witnessed a dramatic increase in awareness within the past two years. I have had lots of opportunity to practice and refine my straw use and consider myself a reusable straw expert (if that's a thing) and would love to share my tips as if I met you at my booth!
Here are my Do's & Don'ts for Reusable Straws:
Congrats on carrying your own straw! Although it is 'just one straw,' our switch back to reusables is making a difference. We thought some modern conveniences were great, we learned they are not and so now is the time to revert back. My older customers always say "Oh Right! Back to the old way- bring your own!" Metal straws, bamboo straws, copper straws, silicone straws, glass straws- you name it- a reusable straw is a must-have accessory.
If you are the type of person who might forget their umbrella, or you plan to impair your memory and sip adult beverages with your shiny new straw, don't use your new reusable straw on your first, second or third outing. Practice forming your new habit first. There is nothing sadder (well, OK there is but just go with me on this) then getting home from your fun night out and remembering you forgot your new straw. Maybe(?) you'll get it back?
To practice, get a box of paper straws and split them up with your friends who you have also convinced to go plastic straw-free and go through the motions of remembering to bring, use and remove your straw. Even though you will not re-use the paper straw, still practice remembering to remove it from your glass when you are done. Here comes a plug- my reusable straw cases also can hold dozens of paper straws so you have them with you on the go. I also advise my customers to leave their case out on the table to help trigger that they need to grab their straw. Having a case for reusable straws is essential for keeping your straw clean and easy to spot.
OK this one is for bars and restaurants- thank you for making the switch to paper straws (yay!!) but please do not straw bomb paper straws either. There is just no need. This will save you money- simply adopt an ask-first or straws only by request policy for your paper straws. Many of your customers now carry their own reusable straws ( I know this because many of my customers already have a reusable straw and need a universal case to carry it in.)
For those of you ready to use and remember your reusable straw, please remember to keep it clean with a straw cleaning brush. This tool is essential and you can either keep one in your reusable straw case or next to your sponge at your kitchen sink.
Please do not rely on the dishwasher or by simply holding the straw under the faucet to get it clean. I know by running silicone straws through the dishwasher that when I look through them, they do not get all the way clean (I use straws for smoothies so it is very obvious- some other beverages might leave residue that is not so obvious.) Glass straws may be fine as you can easily spot if you did not get it clean enough. I do not trust that my stainless steel straw is clean without using my straw cleaning brush. Check with your straw manufacturer if in doubt and follow their specific instructions on cleaning.
Have fun learning your new habit and being an inspiration to others watching you pull out your reusable straw (in a very cute straw case of course)!
I hope you find these tips helpful- I love guiding others through their single-use free journey. One more point of caution- please check with your straw manufacturer if you are providing reusable straws to children. Rigid metal straws are not appropriate as they can injure their soft palate. Softer straw materials are a better choice.
Cheers and enjoy your straw! Shop below if you need a reusable straw case!
Wendy Barnes Design connects wildlife conservation causes to everyday lifestyle choices through animal prints resulting in awareness and action. Join the mailing list for updates, sales and to meet the partners you can support through every purchase and more at www.wendybarnesdesign.com