Bamboo Drinking Straws: Ultimate Buying Guide
As people become more and more aware of how much trash they’re generating, many households have switched from disposable products to reusable, sustainable ones.
Many bamboo straws are actually whole pieces of young bamboo, cut into various lengths to fit all kinds of drinking vessels from coffee mugs to mojito glasses.
Aside from the fun appearance of bamboo, and the novelty of drinking from a stalk of the stuff, why should you consider this plant for your new drinking straw material?
Why Bamboo Straws?
Perhaps the most impactful reason for bamboo straws is for the sake of the planet. It’s estimated that nearly 500 million disposable plastic straws are tossed into landfills every year - that’s enough to fill 127 school busses with plastic straws every single day of the year.
Turning to sustainable materials for reusable straws can keep literal tons of garbage out of landfills.
Bamboo straws are also better than plastic when it comes to health. When you use plastic straws for hot beverages like tea, cocoa, and coffee, toxins can leach from the plastic and enter your body, often disrupting hormones and other negative side effects.
Using a natural, organic straw made from bamboo eliminates the potential for ingesting chemicals, and you can still use a straw to drink hot - or cold - beverages.
Are Bamboo Straws Safe?
On the whole, bamboo straws are safe when compared to glass and stainless steel, which are other favorite materials for reusable drinking straws. However, unlike glass and metal, bamboo straws do have a limited lifespan, especially if they are not finished or cured.
Because bamboo is a natural, organic material, it will eventually begin to fray and splinter, even when well cared-for. This is simply what happens to all natural materials, but if you have small children, you’ll want to take care before giving them a bamboo straw and be sure to carefully inspect before giving them to your kids - or before drinking from them yourself.
The good news is that when your bamboo straw is worn out, you can toss it in the compost pile instead of the garbage can, assuming it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals. There, it will break down naturally, instead of creating more mass in a landfill.
Recommended Bamboo Straws
So you’ve made the decision to swap your disposable plastic straws for reusable bamboo - but which product is right for you and your family?
Below, you’ll find our five favorites for bamboo drinking straws.
Buluh Straws are a good choice for people who want an entirely natural option for a drinking straw.
Solid and durable, these straws contain absolutely no dyes or inks, and the bamboo is grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides.
Because each straw is created from a single stalk of bamboo, the color, texture, and thickness vary between each one.
The straws are each eight inches long and are handcrafted in Bali. The straws come with a handy cleaning brush and a custom bag for safe, convenient storage.
What We Love
The beautiful packaging these straws come in is a huge plus, and each bag is made from natural fibers, so you won’t have to worry about compromising your eco-friendly pledge. The bag also makes it easy to keep track of your straws, so they don’t wind up hidden or lost in your kitchen drawers.
What We Didn't Like
The completely natural state of these bamboo straws means they cannot be placed in the dishwasher. To care for your Buluh straws, you must hand-wash them with warm, soapy water and the included cleaning brush, and air dry on a drying rack.
Elemental Home’s bamboo drinking straws come in packs of twelve, perfect for large families or frequent entertainers.
The bamboo straws are approximately eight inches long and contain no BPAs or harsh chemicals.
They can be used with hot or cold beverages, and come with two Nylon cleaning brushes that can reach down into the middle of the straws.
The exteriors of the straws have been polished, so you’ll have less of a chance of them splintering and cracking while you or your loved ones are drinking from them. These straws also have a relatively wide diameter, making them perfect for smoothies and milkshakes.
What We Love
The polish on these straws makes them comfortable to use, and safer to provide to children due to the decreased chance of cracking or splintering.
What We Didn't Like
Some reviewers note that the packaging for these straws isn’t sufficient to make the shipping journey. Many reviewers said the packaging was torn and/or opened upon arrival.
Available in a set of six drinking straws and a Nylon cleaning brush, Bambu straws are elegant options for people who want to sip more sustainably.
Each of the bamboo straws is straight (mostly - there might be some curvature from the natural bamboo) and measures about nine inches long.
These particular straws, while made from natural materials, do not contain any kind of polish or finish.
This is good if you’re looking to avoid chemicals and unnatural finishes, but it does mean that these straws have limited durability.
After enough use, these will begin to splinter and warp due to the moisture and handling.
What We Love
Each straw is made from real bamboo, and this is apparent in the slight differences between each straw. It makes for a very natural, eco-friendly statement.
What We Didn't Like
Some reviewers noted that while the set comes with a Nylon cleaning brush, it doesn’t fit inside the straws. You’ll need to find a smaller pipe cleaner, or simply rinse immediately after use with water.
Each set of Zone Bamboo Straws comes with ten straws that are 15 cm in length, and have varying thicknesses from the natural bamboo it is made from.
The straws begin as bamboo grown in the Balinese mountains and are handcrafted into drinking straws by Balinese artisans.
If you require a larger straw, the company also offers the sets in 20 cm straws instead of 15.
The company also offers a 100% money back guarantee, so you can take a chance with this product knowing that, if it isn’t completely to your satisfaction, you can return them for the full purchase price.
What We Love
In addition to doing good things for the Earth, each purchase of these drinking straws supports tribes in Bali. Each straw you buy helps create better lives for others, in so many ways!
What We Didn't Like
Keep in mind the unit of measurement when purchasing - these straws are on the shorter side, which makes them good for mugs, mason jars, and juice glasses, but too short for standard drinking glasses and long, narrow cocktails.
This set of twelve bamboo straws from Tropical is a perfect choice for the person who loves to entertain.
With enough straws in a pack for the whole invitation list, each of these straws also has a distinctly natural look to it, so you and your guests will notice the unique bends, knots, and color variations in each straw.
These straws are eleven inches long and are best suited to drinks in long, narrow glasses like mojitos and Collinses.
However, you can use them with any standard drinking glass with good results.
Because they are natural bamboo, the diameter is not exactly consistent between each straw, but on the whole, they are about the diameter of a traditional plastic drinking straw.
Use these with thinner beverages like water, juice, or soda, as they are a little too narrow for thicker drinks like smoothies and shakes.
What We Love
The straws are simply a thin stalk of bamboo cut into lengths, which gives them a beautiful, natural aesthetic. They are good-quality, too - they are strong, durable, and lightweight, which makes them perfect for continued use.
What We Didn't Like
The straw set doesn’t come with a cleaning brush, which makes cleaning difficult due to how narrow the straws are. You’ll want to make sure you rinse the straw immediately after use, to prevent any unreachable dried, stuck-on bits.
What to Look for in Bamboo Drinking Straws
As the reusable drinking straw market heats up, you may certainly come across bamboo drinking straws that aren’t included in this list. While these are our top five recommended brands for drinking straws, there are just a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when purchasing a set of straws.
First, think about the types of vessels you usually use a straw with. Do you prefer to sip hot coffee and tea through a straw, or do you take your water in a tall, narrow cup?
Depending on your preference, you’ll want to choose a straw that’s an appropriate length.
Most straws come in lengths tall enough to fit a standard water glass or tall, narrow cocktail glass, to as short as a juice glass or mug. If you drink from all sizes of vessels, you’ll perhaps want to buy a few sets in various lengths, so you have a straw for every cup.
Ever struggled to drink a thick shake through a small, narrow straw?
Then you’ll understand the importance of choosing the right diameter of straw to use with your beverages.
For thicker beverages like smoothies, milkshakes, and slushies, you’ll want to choose a wider straw that will allow you to slurp up even the thickest of blended treats. However, if you’re only planning to use your straws with thin beverages like water, tea, or juice, a thin, narrow straw will perfectly serve your needs.
If you’re not sure, or you drink everything from water to milkshakes with a straw, it’s better to err on the thicker side - going too thin will create a struggle when you want to consume blended drinks, and will result in frustration and exhaustion.
When in doubt, go wider!
When it comes to bamboo straws, there are usually two “types” - a paper straw that is often printed with a bamboo design, or an actual piece of bamboo that has been cut to a certain length.
To get the best bang for your buck, I suggest avoiding the paper straws all together and always opting for the natural bamboo stalk when you can.
Paper straws are not reusable, so you have to keep using a new one every time you drink and will wind up tossing out the used straw. Even though paper is biodegradable, why generate more trash if you don’t have to?
Plus, many of the paper/fiber straws use inks and dyes, which are just unnecessary additions when you can opt for an actual piece of bamboo, as opposed to something that looks like one.
Buying just a few real bamboo stalks that you can use over and over is about as sustainable as you can get.
Bamboo straws usually come in two finishes - they can be treated, polished, and cured, to create a durable, hard exterior that can be placed in the dishwasher, or you can opt for a completely untreated straw that consists just of the natural fibers.
If you’re looking for as natural an option as possible, you can choose untreated and unpolished bamboo, but remember that these will not last as long as straws that have been cured and polished.
Additionally, unfinished bamboo straws are best suited for adult-only homes, or households with older children, as the untreated bamboo will crack and splinter over time, and could potentially cause injuries.
The finish will also dictate how you clean the straws. If you’re looking for straws that can be placed in the dishwasher, choose only those that have been finished, as untreated bamboo will deteriorate quickly in the dishwasher.
Many bamboo drinking straw sets come with one or two nylon cleaning brushes, which usually consist of a head of bristles on the end of a long wire rod.
These brushes are inserted into the straws and used to scrape away any stuck-on bits from your beverage.If you have a set of wider straws meant for thick drinks, you may be able to get away with a set that does not come with a brush, as you can probably get the majority of gunk out with some warm, soapy water.
However, the inclusion of a brush is extremely important if you’re opting for thin, narrow straws, as they can be difficult to clean without getting in there and scrubbing.
You’ll also want to think about the type of beverage you’re usually drinking. A thick smoothie with greens and chia seeds is more likely to need a brush for cleaning, while hot tea or soda doesn’t leave much residue behind.
If you’re planning to use these as a primary smoothie straw, definitely look for a set with a brush, so you prevent bacteria from growing in your reusable straw.
Bamboo - for the Earth, and Your Kitchen
With nearly 500 million plastic drinking straws being thrown into landfills every year, bamboo straws are a smart, green alternative to keep in your home.
In addition to being better for our planet, reusable straws will save you money in the long run. And since they’re easy to clean (just warm water, soap, and the brush that comes with many sets) you’ll be more likely to keep using them every day, instead of turning back to disposables.
By choosing the right straw for the type of beverages you usually drink, the size of the glass you drink it out of, and the finish you’re looking for on you straw, you’ll find a useful kitchen tool that’s good for the environment, healthier for your body, and that looks fun and festive, too.