My daughter--an environmentalist who used to delight in blowing the wrapping paper off straws at me when I wasn't looking--broke the news to me: Plastic straws may be on the verge of extinction. The fact is, they are terrible for the environment, perhaps more so than plastic bottles or bags

According to Fast Company, 500 million straws are used daily in the U.S., and McDonald's is already testing alternatives. Many states are on the verge of prohibiting them, and some countries already have bans in place. 

Sustainable practices are good for business in the long run. They give rise to creative solutions. According to Transparency Market Research, reusable water bottles will generate $10 billion in sales by 2024 and have even become trendy fashion accessories.

Inventors are already on the case, marketing alternatives to the plastic straw. Hay Straws declares "Plastic straws suck!" on its website and sells straws that can go directly from your empty bottle or glass into the compost bin.

You can even carry your own straws around. Greens straws come with their own cleaning brush and a lifetime guarantee. The family-run business was created in 2015, and the company behind the straws -- Greens Steel -- also makes water bottles and cups. The self-funded business, based in Portland, Oregon, reports that straw sales have doubled since consumers became more aware of the environmental issue. Much of Greens straws marketing efforts go toward education, teaching consumers and restaurants about the dangers of plastic straws. 

Simply Straws was an early innovator, creating handcrafted glass straws in California as early as 2012. The straws sell for $20 each on Amazon, so you probably won't be seeing them in your neighborhood pizza shop any time soon. But true environmentalists will feel good about every sip because the company donates a percent of its profits to environmental causes.

Several manufacturers are selling variations on titanium and stainless steel straws. Some even come with their own colorful carry bags, and you can buy silicone tips to keep the drinking side sanitary. 

We're far from the last straw. Smart innovators will develop and profit from the ban before it goes into effect. 

And here's more good news: You can still get that thrill of shooting the paper at your fellow diners. Eco-Products makes a line of straws from corn plastic--and they have environmentally friendly paper wrappers.

Published on: Jun 20, 2018