What to Buy

Every Kind of Reusable Straw, Ranked

Yes, paper straws are dead last.

July 14, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

If you’re still drinking out of a plastic straw, you might as well be throwing garbage right into the ocean. Or at least that’s the opinion of many who have made the personal pledge to cut their plastic consumption in small, sustainable ways. Thankfully, the move away from plastic straws is not a ban on all straws, which is great news for those who don’t enjoy getting hit in the teeth with ice cubes every time they take a sip.

Eco-friendly alternatives ranging from metal and glass to silicone and paper have swooped in to save the day. And no, they’re not all the same. Some are reusable and even dishwasher-safe, while others are more of a one-and-done option.

To help you weed through the choices, we ranked the most common plastic-straw alternatives from best to worst. Some are great and some don’t totally suck (get it?), but I think we can all agree that paper straws are dead last—and that's a fact.

1. Silicone Straws

Silicone straws easily top our list because they’re durable, long-lasting, flexible, portable, and temperature-resistant for both hot and cold drinks. They’re dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning, too, but you might want to buy a straw brush (if yours doesn't come with one already) to get out any little bits that could grip onto the soft material. Silicone is recyclable, and many brands offer straws in any color under the sun. Plus, the soft material means you won’t chip a tooth, making them especially appropriate for little ones.

Five Two Silicone Straws | Shop on Food52, $25 Photo by Rocky Luten
We Might Be Tiny Kids Reusable Straw Set | Shop on Anthropologie, $18 Photo by Anthropologie

2. Metal Straws

First off, don’t believe the myth that metal straws will give your drinks a funny taste—if you’re buying food-grade stainless steel, they’re not any different than your utensils. Metal straws are pretty similar to their (distant) silicone cousins in that they’re also recyclable and come in a bunch of colors, which, of course, will typically skew metallic. They're just as easy to tote around as silicone and are even more durable, but they’re not going to be bendable—unless you grab ones that are already bent at an angle. They lose one star for the potential injury they carry for overeager sippers and the fact that they might get too hot to use with a scalding matcha latte.

Hiware 12-Pack Stainless Steel Straws | Shop on Amazon, $5.90 Photo by Amazon
Stainless Steel Straws | Shop on Crate & Barrel, $6.95 Photo by Crate & Barrel

3. Glass Straws

Glass straws are just straight-up pretty, full stop. If you can find pastel-tinted glass straws (don’t worry, we did), you might never go back. They run the gamut, however, in quality—some are super delicate and will break easily while others are tougher and more substantial. You can see the insides of the straws to know for sure that they’re clean and there’s no mold building up, but getting to that level of cleanliness is going to take a bit of light-handed patience to make sure they’re spotless—and not broken as a result. If you want to try out glass, spend a little more on a thicker set that you can toss gently place in the dishwasher.

Poketo Glass Straw | Shop on Verishop, $24 Photo by Verishop
Glass Straws | Shop on CB2, $12 Photo by CB2

4. Sugarcane Straws

In the second half of our list, we’re moving away from reusable materials and getting closer and closer to straws that will eventually break down and become one with the earth (or in the case of paper straws, float around your drink). It’s key to remember that even though these options are less durable, they’re still great for the environment and can be more affordable, especially if you’re buying in bulk. What sets sugarcane straws apart from this group is that they’re 100 percent compostable and can be reused a couple of times if carefully cleaned and stored. Keep in mind that hot liquids will likely make them fall apart.

EQUO Sugarcane Drinking Straws | Shop on Amazon, $12.25 Photo by Amazon
Sugarcane Straws | Shop on Amazon, $17.90 Photo by Amazon

5. Bamboo Straws

Bamboo straws are literal stalks of bamboo that have been cut down and polished into straws. They’re biodegradable, compostable, and great for the environment, too. Don’t try to chew on these, however, because they’ll definitely crack in your mouth and you might open yourself up to the possibility of mouth splinters (fun!). Unlike glass straws that might break or paper straws that might crumple, bamboo straws are easy to throw in a bag and carry around. They’re plant-based (obviously) and can be reused if they’re well maintained.

Kikkerland Natural Bamboo Straws | Shop on Cost World Market, $8 Photo by Cost World Market
Bamboo Straws | Shop on Public Goods, $12 Photo by Public Goods

6. Paper Straws

We tried really hard to find one redeemable quality of paper straws, and came up with this: They’re cheap, especially in bulk. This might be the deciding factor for you and your environmentalist party, and that’s cool—you do you! But to be honest, paper straws have no business going into our drinks. They get mushy fast, and by the time you’ve sipped half of your iced tea, there are pieces of paper bobbing in your glass. Plus, they make everything taste like you chewed on a paper bag. But if you must…

Comfy Package Store Paper Drinking Straws | Shop on Amazon, $7.99 Photo by Amazon
BalsaCircle Gold and White Striped Paper Straws | Shop on Walmart, $2.09 Photo by Walmart

What’s your favorite type of straw? (Please don’t say paper!) Let us know in the comments below.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Ariel Scotti

Written by: Ariel Scotti

Writer who’s never met a book, pasta or pup she didn’t love.

21 Comments

theasp18 July 15, 2021
phade straws, the world's first marine biodegradable straw made with PHA (a natural plastic derived from the fermentation of canola oil). Cost less than paper straws, performs like a straw should. Google it.
 
ecotruth July 18, 2021
PHA and phade straws are a lie. Don’t believe them. There’s an entire WSJ article about how they’re not actually marine biodegradable or soil biodegradable. Google it. Don’t believe the “made from plants” products.
 
theasp18 July 18, 2021
Sorry, that article offers no proof. All the PHA materials, including phade, have been certified by TUV and ASTM standards. They are also BPI and Cedar Grove certified. Follow the science and not a speculative, shock article meant to drive down the stock price for short sellars. I'm sorry you don't like the product for non-scientific reasons. In the end, litter is the real cause of our issues, not plastic, PHA or paper.
 
ecotruth July 19, 2021
PHA and PLA must be sent to an industrial composting for it to properly decompose - there are only 180 facilities in the US. Most of the time these materials are not sent to these facilities. If it is throw out with regular trash, it will not decompose for 100 million+ years. Those certifications and lab tests are done under extreme perfect conditions and are not a true tests of the real world.

Phade and all of these other bio plastic are just examples of marketing lies. But thank you phade employee for trying to fool the public to think otherwise.
 
theasp18 July 20, 2021
Sorry, but incorrect information again, if you're here to bash the product, that's fine, I get it but please don't mislead the public with factually incorrect information to support additional false information for shock value. PLA, you are correct, it needs to go to an industrial composting facility and that's a huge task to overcome. PHA, on the other hand, just needs bacteria present to completely break down to carbon, making it industrial compostable, home compostable, soil biodegradable and marine biodegradable - though no one should EVER throw their garbage in our waterway! Anyway, again, it's easily google-able, you should try it so you're not just taking my words as the PHA gospel, I encourage anyone here to actively do so.

So cheers sir or madam. I won't be returning to you for any further comments as time is life's greatest treasure.
 
JacobL July 20, 2021
Are those the blue straws? We bought those for our restaurant and there’s something weird about the texture of the material. A bunch of customers complained and we had to ditch them unfortunately.
 
theasp18 July 21, 2021
Probably not as they feel and perform just like plastic straws.
 
JacobL July 21, 2021
Hmm, I think the brand was phade, not sure if that’s the same thing. It was a pass for my restaurant unfortunately. The material was too weird.

Plus, hate to say it but if it looks like plastic and feels like plastic then what’s the point.
 
Jenina P. July 15, 2021
Have you tried using long hollow pasta, like bucatini? I have had this at Italian restaurants and it's kinda fun!
 
Jada W. July 20, 2021
I haven't but that sounds intriguing! How did you like it?
 
Jenina P. July 20, 2021
It’s flavourless and does not deteriorate in the liquid, it’s perfect! And obviously biodegradable because it’s dried food
 
Jada W. July 21, 2021
Nice, sounds like a great alternative to plastic straws—can't wait to test it the next time I make dinner!
 
Jenina P. July 21, 2021
I recommend using it in an Aperol Spritz during aperitivo; while making a nice Italian inspired meal ;)
 
cafeloco July 14, 2021
Have you heard of the sofi straw? They have them at my local coffee shop here in Miami. They’re paper but work really well (I know surprising). I bought them on Amazon too and my son really likes them for his morning chocolate milk.

I’m not a big fan of sugarcane or agave straws since they are mainly made with PLA or plastic and not actually good for the environment.
 
theasp18 July 18, 2021
You're absolutely right about sugarcane and agave straws.

However, I'd be cautious on any paper straws like SOFI that are made to be hold up longer. The coatings used can contain PFAS (Forever chemicals).

https://cen.acs.org/environment/persistent-pollutants/Biodegradabledrinking-straws-contain-PFAS/99/i11

 
bakingforbakers July 19, 2021
It says PFAS-free on their website…
 
flourorflower July 19, 2021
My daughter buys the sofi straw all the time from Walmart and they’re surprisingly really good.
 
Jada W. July 20, 2021
How do you like the sofi straw? Does the paper break down?
 
cheflaura1973 July 20, 2021
They have them here in Honolulu at the curb kaimuki and they're great! Highly recommend!!

I didn't even know they're available at Walmart. Thanks for the tip!
 
emily July 14, 2021
I think glass is my #1 choice personally! I've tried the silicone ones but dust seems to cling to them, and I prefer glass over metal so I can see inside and be sure it's totally clean. I don't have a dishwasher but I wash all my straws by hand with the little mini bottle brush - I've never had one stain or break. I also have fatter versions for boba and smoothies! I'm glad reusable straws are getting more popular because I used to be questioned constantly by people who just thought it was the dumbest thing ever or that it would be impossible to keep clean - same thing with my reusable KeepCup. Who's laughing now?!
 
Jada W. July 20, 2021
We wouldn't dare laugh—reusable all the way! I also have fatter straws for boba and smoothies, and I'm so glad they exist!