The world sees at least 2000 tonnes of plastic waste accumulated from straws, reaching the ocean each year. This amounts to a sixty-seventh, or 1.5% of the total single-use plastic waste generated on a yearly basis internationally. You must have seen the painfully upsetting video of a turtle being rescued after injuries from a plastic straw in its nose. Did you know that more than a million seabirds die every year from choking on plastic straws, which they mistake for food? In fact, because of straws, bottles and other such products, there is a high concentration of microplastics even in our drinking water and the salt we consume. This also applies to the seafood industry, most shellfish, fish and crustaceans inevitably have microplastics in their system that is not visible to us and finally entering our systems.

While straws don’t have too much of a useful purpose to serve, they are indeed handy in stirring or scooping, or drinking from a glass full of ice. If you tend to get beverages often from outside, it would be a wise idea to carry a metal straw (steel or copper) with you. These straws come in a handy pouch of their own where they remain sanitized and clean, and they also come with a brush that can reach through the entire length of the straw and clean it for you. Especially for small kids who might find it difficult to drink directly out of a glass, it is advised for mothers to keep a couple of straws with them. The pack includes both bent and straight straws, depending on the type of beverage being consumed. Another eco-friendly option, of course, is having bamboo straws which are also super easy to clean, and come with a similar brush. Having reusable straws is an advantage in having less waste reach the landfills or the ocean as a consequence. If you are hosting a party or running a business where you need a disposable straw option which is also eco friendly, you can opt for these, made from wheat stems. The wheat stem straws are 100% natural, biodegradable, and have no taste or odour, so you can enjoy your drink comfortably without guilt.

Bamboo straws are lightweight, reusable and biodegradable.

How many times have you gone to a coffee shop and gotten a beverage where you had to mix your sugar separately, which resulted in you having to take a plastic stirring stick, only to throw it away after you had mixed your drink? It pricks my conscience each time I have to do this, which brings me to the next use and throw product we need to avoid - stirrers. Do you often get food delivered to your office, and notice that it came with plastic spoons, which you totally didn’t need? Why not keep the most essential cutlery (a simple spoon and fork) handy, that you can wash easily and keep back in your bag? A spoon easily doubles up as a stirrer, and these are made from coconut shell without any added colour or polishes, which means they are super easy to clean, they don’t catch on odours or remain greasy from any food consumed. Again, however, if you are looking for a disposable alternative to spoons as well, you could look at these biodegradable wooden spoons which are totally eco friendly.

Cutlery made from wood or coconut is easy to clean, strong and durable.

Of course we are often faced with situations where we cannot reuse a certain item and we need to be on the lookout for disposable cutlery, serveware, and many of us can’t stop eating out on a regular basis, living away from home. We can still make a positive impact by having food parceled in our own reusable containers, or finding options like aluminum which can be safely recycled for further use, and sugarcane bagasse, siali leaves etc., which are biodegradable and a great way to reduce waste pile-up. Even tetra pak, though supposedly recyclable, ends up often not having the resources to recycle or process that material, thereby still adding to the landfill waste. If you need a durable, reusable shopping bag, these tetra pak shopping bags are a useful way to be sustainable and they also look good, with a zip and ample space to carry all your supplies. They can also be carried to the beach or any place where the bag could get messy.

Daily use items are still a problem in sustainability and we must constantly do our homework to see what is sustainable and what could be potentially harmful to the environment. Reinforce the quote “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” in your life, and you will make a difference at a personal level as well as globally. Opt for methods and materials that use less water, pollute less, degrade easily, and materials that do not restrict you to one single use.