The plastic straw is slowly being phased out across the world with more and more countries, states and cities moving to remove plastic disposable products and help protect the environment.  Sourcing Nova has done research into the best non-plastic alternatives to plastic straws.

There are a variety of lengths of reusable straws available, with an average length of 8.5 to 10 inches (The length is secondary to the diameter – the size of the hole for the straw.  Here is a general guide of diameters when looking for the best reusable straws:

Diameter in inchesDiameter in mmPerfect for
1/4 inch6 mmSodas, water and tea
1/3 inch8 mmGeneral beverages, smoothies
3/8 inch10 mmSmoothies, milkshakes
1/2 inch12 mmBoba tea, milkshakes

Sourcing Nova recommends ordering samples before you elect to wholesale straws.  This way you can determine what straws are the best options for you and your customers.

The best metal

There are plenty of metal straws to select from as you begin looking for the best straws to wholesale.  Metal comes down to one of two options.  They are:

Stainless steel

Most kitchenware and dining ware is made from stainless steel and for good reason.  The common 18/8 alloy means the steel is non corrosive and safe for dishwashers.  Although washing a reusable metal straw in a dishwasher is possible, it is not that simple. Hand washing in hot, soapy water, rinsed and allowed to air dry is the best way to keep your stainless steel straws clean.  This technique will make sure your straws will become family heirlooms.  The only drawback to stainless steel straws is they conduct heat and are not appropriate for hot drinks.

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Titanium

The second most common metal used for metal straws, titanium, is sturdier and lighter than the stainless steel equivalent.  Titanium metal straws are also more expensive – a factor to be considered when sourcing metal straws.  Titanium does conduct heat but not as well as stainless steel.  A factor to consider for hot drinks.

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Best metal straws on Amazon

Most people shop Amazon for various products, and many of Sourcing Nova’s customers order products for sale in their own Amazon e-store.  The best reusable metal straws share a few characteristics:

  • Set of four or more straws
  • Food grade stainless steel or titanium
  • Straight and flexible options
  • Variety of colors
  • Silicone tips for protecting the mouth and teeth
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Carrying case

Sourcing Nova works only with manufacturers that meet these characteristics and have international certifications for food grade metal construction.

The best glass straw

Glass straws are not what people may think.  We mentioned in the previous post on straws how glass straws are made from a very specific glass – borosilicate – that is designed to be temperature and shatter resistant.  To put it into perspective, it is very similar to the glass used in professional science labs by professionals.

The best reusable glass straws share the following characteristics:

  • Shatter resistant
  • Silicone reusable tips
  • Eco-friendly
  • Made of borosilicate glass
  • Clear or lightly colored
  • Variety of diameters for different beverages
  • Tolerate of hot and cold
  • Cleaning brush
  • Carrying case

The best silicone straws

Metal is a great material for reusable straws, but metal does have one drawback.  Metal does not bend easily, and accidents can happen with metal straws.  Small children certainly should not use a metal straw.  It is far better for kids to use silicone straws.

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Silicone makes a great straw because of the flexibility, variety of colors greater than that of metal, are safer for small hands and protect teeth from accidental chipping.  Silicone’s flexibility also means the straw can be folded down and stored in a small container or plastic bag between uses.  Those seeking a collapsible straw are well advised to look into silicone straws.

Those who drink hot beverages through straws will find silicone to be the best choice.

The best silicone straws share the following characteristics:

  • Be sold as a set of straws
  • Come in a variety of lengths for kids’ cups
  • A bit thicker since some people like to chew on their straws
  • Feature a variety of colors
  • Come with a cleaning brush

Sourcing Nova also has connections to manufacturers of silicone straws as well.

The best paper straws

The best eco-friendly straws are not as reusable as the others.  The best eco-friendly straw is a paper straw.  The paper straw of today is much more sturdy and well-made than the paper straws of the past.

The best paper straws are reusable to a small degree, but they are certainly not designed for long term use.  Using them for a few drinks at a party or reunion is about the feasible option to be reusable.

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Paper has the advantage over the other straws of being easily biodegradable.  Rather than throwing the straws into the trash, putting them in a compost pile is a much better option.

The best paper straws share the following characteristics:

  • Come in a variety of colors
  • Come in a variety of diameters and lengths
  • Sold in bulk pack
  • Food safe ink
  • Multi-layers of paper for durability

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The best boba straws

Boba teas are a relatively new drink in the West, having come from Taiwan by way of Brazil, the source of the tapioca necessary to make the small, sweet balls that lie in the bottom of the sweet milk and tea combination.

Those who love a boba tea like people love their lattes, want a straw that will handle the tapioca balls in the bottom of the cups, so this means a straw with a larger than normal diameter.

Boba straws are often hard plastic but are completely reusable.  The best boba straws share the following characteristics:

  • Longer than an average straw but can be cut down to length
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Sold in a set
  • Include a cleaning brush
  • BPA free

The best bamboo straw

The last of the reusable straws is also the most eco-friendly option of them all.  Bamboo is 100 percent organic and completely sustainable.  The best natural bamboo straws are tan, the color of bamboo when it is dried completely.

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Bamboo straws are reusable, easy to clean and come in a variety of sizes.  The best bamboo straws share the following characteristics:

  • Are cut from a single piece of bamboo
  • No ink or dyes
  • 100 percent sustainable
  • Come with a brush made from coconut fiber

One straw type vs. another

It is almost universally accepted that a plastic straw is not the best option.  With so many places moving to ban them completely, it makes sense to look into the best alternative available.  Sourcing Nova has compiled how some straws fare against others for you to make the most informed decision.

Paper vs. plastic straws

Plastic is bad for the environment.  This is universally accepted as true.  So it would make good sense that paper straws, being as they are biodegradable and recyclable would be better.

It is not that simple, unfortunately.

Many recycling facilities have strict rules against paper that has been in contact with food – such as straws.  The amount of energy and pollution used to make straws is actually greater than an equivalent number of plastic straws.

Restaurants that use paper straws often do not have a separate bin for recycling or biodegradable products, so the straws go into the trash and a landfill soon after.

Paper straws can be more expensive than plastic straws.  Sourcing Nova does its absolute best when looking for straws.  The fact is paper straws may be two or three times more expensive than their plastic counterparts – something to consider before placing an initial order.

Straw vs. sippy cup

As children develop and move from bottle feeding to food, the necessity of drinking liquid comes with it.  It is an important developmental milestone for small children to use facial muscles in drinking for everything from speech articulation to eating.  Using a cup also helps the child with sitting up, reaching the mouth and other hand/eye coordination skills.

A sippy cup, the plastic cups with a lid and handles, is a parent’s first choice and for good reason.  The drawback is the sippy cup continues a sucking motion like a bottle, so there is no development of mouth muscles at this time.

Cups with straws built into them help teach the child to pull their tongue to the back of the mouth during drinking.

Either option is designed to be spill proof and only hold small amounts of liquid.

Silicone vs. metal straws

We touched on the pros and cons of silicone vs. metal straws in our description.  Here is a bit more for you as you make your best choices for straws.

Silicone straws are much safer for kids, store more easily, dishwasher safe and almost unbreakable.  Silicone straws are also very bendable to the point no liquid may pass up the straw, and opaque – there is no way to see through them.

Metal straws do not break and are also travel friendly.  Metal straws are also not the best choice for kids – not only from a safety standpoint but also because they cannot see the liquids coming up the straw.

Glass vs. metal

Both are designed to be sturdy and stand up against extreme temperatures.  Glass, however, has the advantage in being clear or lightly colored and does not conduct heat well.  This means glass will not burn fingers or lips in the case of hot beverages.

Both glass and metal can be colored, but color palettes are limited.  Each has the option of a silicone reusable tip to protect mouth when straw is in use.

Glass is not collapsible.  Metal straws can have sections added or removed from them depending on the size of the drinking glass.  Both can be straight or bent slightly for ease of use and come in a variety of diameters from very small to oversized for thicker beverages.

Metal vs. plastic

Metal straws, while reusable, do have one significant disadvantage over plastic straws.  It takes the same amount of energy to make one metal straw as it does to create 90 plastic straws.  This means to get a return on the time and energy necessary to make a metal straw that a metal straw needs to be reused approximately 150 times before there is value.

Of course, there is the issue of metal being somewhat dangerous for small children and clumsy people.  You will also have to keep a reusable, not necessarily metal, non plastic straw with you at all times. You also will need to clean it between uses.

Final Thoughts

Sourcing Nova hopes you have learned enough to make your best decision if you are looking to source the best non-plastic straws from China.  However, we want to know what you think.  Which straws do you think are the best of the choices we have found?  Leave us a comment below.