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Why Are Paper Straws Not That Popular Anymore?

Although paper straws are a popular eco-friendly option, they are not the most convenient - especially when they get soggy and break apart. This article discusses the engineering and health concerns surrounding paper straws while promoting sustainable and durable Straw by Straw products. If you are interested in purchasing an alternative for paper straws, click here to see our straw straws. 

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Let’s admit it. We all want to save the planet and practice a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but it can be annoying sometimes - especially when it comes to paper straws. We use straws everyday, at home, at restaurants, and even on the go. Now we see that society is moving away from plastic straws and instead using paper ones. But even though paper straws meet our sustainability standards, they are not always convenient. They get soggy before you even finish half your drink and eventually break apart. So you are left straw-less with two decisions: 1) getting up to find another draw or 2) sucking it up and deciding to drink straight from the glass. 

All the fresh attention around paper straws stems from the recent environmental concerns of global pollution and the plastic catastrophe. Plastic production has increased exponentially since the 1950s, going from 2.3 million tons to 448 million tons. Every year, about 8 million tons of that plastic end up in the ocean while the rest sits in landfills where it takes about 400 years to break down. And about 4% of this waste comes from plastic straws, meaning that about 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the Earth. So it remains clear that even if paper straws aren’t the ideal product, we still can’t go back to using plastic straws.

Crazy enough, paper straws have actually been around for years, dating all the way back to 1888. A man named Marvin Stone first invented paper straws when he noticed that rye straws made the drinks taste grassy. He experimented with different types of paper and eventually landed upon the best option of paraffin wax-coated manila paper. Manufacturers today use Stone’s methods and designs when creating paper straws but shifted to reusing food grade paper and other raw materials. 

The issue with these straws however isn’t just from the fact that they are made from a weak material. There is an actual explanation behind the atrocious engineering. We first need to understand that straws are designed as small vessels so that when a person drinks from one end, the straw acts as a mechanical pump. Pressure plays a large role in this vessel because when one sucks air out of the straw, the internal pressure decreases as the atmospheric (external) pressure remains constant. Therefore, the external force compresses the vessel trying to balance out the pressure which puts extra force on the straw. And paper is a weak material that cannot withstand a great amount of pressure, so as somebody continues to drink out of the paper straw, it keeps weakening until it completely breaks apart. 

Drinks themselves act as an additional weakening factor in paper straws because the material soaks up the liquid as it moves through. Over time the paper absorbs enough liquid to the point where the straw becomes soggy and loses its shape. The straw becomes useless as you have to sip harder because it folds over and falls apart. As if these weren’t problems enough, recent studies have also proven that paper straws are linked to certain health concerns. 

The Department of Physiological Sciences at the University of Florida examined the common manufacturing materials used when creating paper straws. It was found that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), extremely harmful chemicals, are necessary to build their water resistant attributes. These chemicals have been linked to carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and reproductive toxicity along with cancer and hormone-disruption. Basically, these chemicals cause serious health issues in all living organisms but especially humans. So what are we supposed to use if plastic and paper straws are both lousy options?  

Straw By Straw Longdrink Straws

Well, we are your answer. Straw By Straw products are made from grain stalks, a durable and all-natural material that will not fall apart in your drink or cause you any health concerns. These straws come from cereal plants where they are harvested and cut into your desired shape and size. Once they are collected, our company practices the safest sterilization method by only using hot water, ensuring no harmful chemicals are added during the process. These straws are 100% biodegradable as well since their only material is plant-based, so when they break down, they actually provide nutrients to the environment. With Straw By Straw products, we continue to decrease the amount of plastic disposables while also meeting consumer needs. Stop using paper straws, and join our community to help save the environment one drink at a time.  

If you are interested in a new type of straw, click here to view Straw By Straw products. 

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