A drinking straw or drinking tube is a small pipe that allows its user to more conveniently consume a beverage. A thin tube of paper, plastic (such as polypropylene and polystyrene), or other material is used by placing one end in the mouth and the other in the beverage. A combination of muscular action of the tongue and cheeks reduces air pressure in the mouth and above the liquid in the straw, whereupon atmospheric pressure forces the beverage through the straw. Drinking straws can be straight or have an angle-adjustable bellows segment.
The first known straws were made by the Sumerians, and were used for drinking beer, probably to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation that sink to the bottom. The oldest drinking straw in existence, found in a Sumerian tomb dated 3,000 BCE, was a gold tube inlaid with the precious blue stone lapis lazuli. Argentines and their neighbors have, for several hundred years, used (for drinking mate tea) a similar metallic device called a bombilla, that acts as both a straw and a sieve. The use of plastic straws became popular following World War 2 due to the inexpensiveness of the materials, as well as the cheapness of the drinks and/or meals that were provided with the plastic straws.
The first mass-produced twisted straw was Sip-N-See invented by Milton Dinhofer who later came up with the idea and designs for the chimp in the iconic game, Barrel of Monkeys. Dinhofer originally patented his straw in the shape of a scissor with two loops on top, but Macy's would not carry the straw unless it had a character on it. They suggested Dinhofer make three straws (eventually patented in 1950): a cowboy, a clown and an animal for which he made an elephant. Each of his characters were attached to a looping soft polyethylene straw, and users were to sip from another detachable, small, straight, straw of acetate. Rexor Corp. copyrighted the straw the same year, but Macy's decided not to carry them. Dinhofer was told the selling price was too low. Dinhofer then turned to Woolworth's and convinced the chain to let him deliver some to several of their stores near his home. After one weekend of sales, Woolworth's placed an order for all of its stores and Sip-N-See went national. The straws were sold in individual boxes, and more characters were eventually added. Other buyers began to carry it, too, and it was marketed as an "action drinking toy." Sip-N-See went on to sell approximately 6 million units, and, a decade later, the s-shape of the arms on the cowboy straw would inspire Dinhofer's monkey design for Barrel of Monkeys.
Wax paper straw
Marvin C. Stone patented the modern drinking straw, made of paper, in 1888, to address the shortcomings of the rye grass straw. He came upon the idea while drinking a mint julep on a hot day in Washington, D.C.; the taste of the rye was mixing with the drink and giving it a grassy taste, which he found unsatisfactory. He wound paper around a pencil to make a thin tube, slid out the pencil from one end, and applied glue between the strips. He later refined it by building a machine that would coat the outside of the paper with wax to hold it together, so the glue wouldn't dissolve in bourbon.
Early paper straws had a narrow bore similar to that of the grass stems then in common use. It was common to use two of them, to reduce the effort needed to take each sip. (The cocktail straw, which is sometimes used in pairs, may be derived from such early straws.) Modern plastic straws are made with a larger bore, and only one is needed for ease of drinking.
- A basic drinking straw is straight for its full length.
- A bendable straw or "bendy straw" (known in the industry as an "articulated straw") has a concertina-type hinge near the top for convenience. This variation was invented by Joseph Friedman in 1937.
- Candy straws, such as licorice straws (or lico-straws), are made from some type of chewy candy.
- cereal straws are made by Kellogg's.
- "color-changer" straws change color when cold (or hot) liquid passes through them. At some restaurants, frozen beverages like slush or frappes are served with color changing straws. Many of these are larger in diameter than typical straws to aid in drinking the thicker beverages.
- A "crazy (or "krazy") straw" is hard, transparent or translucent plastic and has a number of twists and turns at the top. When liquid is sucked through the straw, it quickly flows through the winding path, creating a mildly amusing spectacle, popular with children. The crazy straw may have some therapeutic benefit for people with autism.
- Extendo-straws come in small plastic wrappings like miniature straws, but can extend to reach the bottom of the carton.
- Flavor straws are a form of drinking straw with a flavoring included, designed to make drinking milk more pleasant for children. They were first marketed in the United States in 1956 as Flav-R-Straws. In recent years, newer variations of the original idea have been resurrected in forms such as Sipahhs, and Magic Milk Straws that contain hundreds of flavored pellets encased within a stiff plastic straw.
- A miniature straw is often attached to a drink box.
- "Sanitary" straws are individually wrapped to avoid contamination. Straws were originally marketed as a means for people to reduce the risk of contracting an illness from improperly washed containers, glasses, or cups.
- A spoon straw features a cut-away shape at one end that functions as a miniature spoon. It is intended for slush drinks and milkshakes. Their original purpose was to avoid ice clogging up the submerged end of the straw.[circular reference]
- A wide straw is used for sipping bubble tea. The larger diameter is necessary to accommodate the drink's characteristic tapioca pearls, and can also be used for stirring. The tip of these straws are sometimes cut at an angle creating a point. This allows the straw to puncture the plastic cover of the cup. Wider than normal straws are said to give a better taste. McDonald's says they use wider straws "so all that Coke taste can hit all your taste buds".
- An Edible and Compostable straw made by SORBOS. They are aromatized and flavoured.
- Polystyrene straws
- Polypropylene is becoming favored over polystyrene for manufacturing plastic drinking straws as polystyrene is brittle and tends to crack easily. Polystyrene is also denser than water, causing straws to sink when placed into beverages. Polypropylene straws, by contrast, are much more durable and do not sink.
- Silicone is a newer material used in drinking straws. Silicone straws are marketed for their freezability, invulnerability to cracking or peeling, and insulation for hot and cold drinks.
- Metal straws, popular among campers, are made from stainless steel, aluminum, and even titanium - carry-cases with straw cleaning-brushes are available
- Paper has been used and is used more frequently, as unrecycled plastic waste from straws has been seen to be a problem.
- Polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable plastic, require 68% fewer fossil fuel resources to produce than plastic and are compostable but require very specific conditions to break down fully
Plastic drinking straw production contributes to petroleum consumption, and the used straws become part of global plastic pollution when discarded, most after a single use. One anti-straw advocacy group has estimated that about 500 million straws are used daily in the United States alone – an average 1.6 straws per capita per day. This statistic has been criticized as inaccurate, because it is a guess made by Milo Cress, who was 9 years old at the time, after some phone conversations with straw manufacturers. This figure has been widely cited by major news organizations. In 2017 the market research firm Fredonia Group estimated the number to be 390 million.
The 10 largest emitters of oceanic plastic pollution (which does include plastic straws) are, from the most to the least, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh,
Plastic straws account only for a tiny portion (0.022%) of unrecycled plastic waste in the oceans. Despite that, numerous campaigns in the 2010s have led to companies considering a switch to paper straws and countries imposing bans on plastic straws. However, 90% of all ocean plastic comes from just 10 rivers in Asia and Africa.
Microplastics pollution are a concern if plastic waste is improperly dumped. If plastic straws are improperly disposed of, they can be transported via water into soil ecosystems, and others, where they break down into smaller, more hazardous pieces than the original plastic straw.
Straws are typically made from polypropylene, mixed with colorants and plasticizers, and do not biodegrade in the environment, according to advocacy group For A Strawless Ocean. Since the material is strong it can however be reused or recycled into other products. Waste straws in Uganda are collected from beer and soft drink depots, cleaned, and woven into mats for picnics and prayers or joined to form bags.
- Bamboo straws
- Glass straws
- Metal straws
- Stainless steel straws - cases with straw cleaning-brushes are available
- Straw straws
- Paper straws
- Pasta straws
- Silicone straws
- BPA-free straws
Environmental groups have encouraged consumers to object to "forced" inclusion of plastic straws with food service. Campaigns advocate providing a non-plastic straw to consumers who request one, especially as some people have disabilities that prevent sipping from the rim. Pro-environment critics say that plastic straw bans are insufficient to address the issue of plastic waste, as mostly symbolic. People with disabilities worry that banning plastic straws will make less accessible and many argue that alternatives to plastic straws (metal, paper, glass etc.) aren't good enough alternatives to plastics as they can be choking hazards, have allergy risks and be inflexible.
The movement follows the discovery of plastic particles in oceanic garbage patches and larger plastic waste-reduction efforts that focused on banning plastic bags in some jurisdictions. It has been speeded by viral videos, including one featuring a sea turtle bleeding as a plastic straw is removed from its nostril.
Plastic straw bans and proposals
After the British proposition, fellow Commonwealth nation Canada was considering banning the straws too. An unofficial online survey showed that over 70% of voters agreed with a plastic straw ban.
On April 19, 2018, ahead of Earth Day, a proposal to phase out single-use plastics was announced during the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. This will include plastic drinking straws, which cannot be recycled and contribute to ocean deterioration, damaging ecosystems and wildlife. It is estimated that as of 2018, about 23 million straws are used and discarded daily in the UK.
On November 7, 2017, the city of Santa Cruz, California implemented a ban on all non-recyclable to-go containers, straws, and lids but allowed for 6 months for all businesses to come into compliance before enforcement would occur. On January 1, 2018, the city of Alameda, California citing the Santa Cruz effort, implemented an immediate ban on all straws, except if requested by a customer, and gave business until July 1, 2018 when it would be required that all straws to be of compostable paper and that all other to-go containers be recyclable.
In the first half of 2018, three towns in Massachusetts banned petrochemical plastic straws directly in the case of Provincetown, and as part of broader sustainable food packaging laws in Andover and Brookline. The city of Seattle implemented a ban on non-compostable disposable straws on July 1, 2018.
A drinking straw ban has been proposed in New York City since May 2018. Local regulations have also been passed in Malibu, California; Davis, California; San Luis Obispo, California; Miami Beach, Florida; and Fort Myers, Florida.
A statewide California law restricting the providing of single-use plastic straws went into effect on January 1, 2019. The text of the law is on the California legislature's website, here. Under the law, restaurants are only allowed to provide single-use plastic straws upon request. The law applies to sit-down restaurants but exempts fast-food restaurants, delis, coffee shops, and restaurants that do takeout only. The law does not apply to to-go cups and takeaway drinks. A restaurant will receive warnings for its first two violations, then a $25 per day fine for each subsequent violation, up to a maximum of $300 in a year. In a statement released upon his signing the legislation into law, then-Governor Jerry Brown said "It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products."
After consideration of a ban in the UK, in 2018, after a two month trial of paper straws at a number of outlets in the UK, McDonald's announced they would be switching to paper straws for all locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. and testing the switch in U.S. locations in June 2018.
A month after the Vancouver ban passed (but before it took effect) Canada's second-largest fast food chain, A&W announced they would have plastic straws fully phased out by January 2019 in all of their locations.
Various independent restaurants have also stopped using plastic straws.
Hyatt Hotels announced straws would be provided by request only, starting September 1, 2018. Royal Caribbean plans to offer only paper straws on request by 2019, and IKEA said it would eliminate all single-use plastic items by 2020. Other conversions include Waitrose, London City Airport, and Burger King UK stores starting September 2018. A few other cruise lines, air lines, beverage companies, and hotels, have also made partial or complete reductions, but most companies in those industries have not, as of May 2018.
- Thompson, Derek (November 22, 2011). "The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw". The Atlantic.
- Maeir, Aren M.; Garfinkel, Yosef (2013). "Bone and Metal Straw-tip Beer-strainers from the Ancient Near East". Levant. 24: 218–223. doi:10.1179/007589192790220793.
- Homan, Michael (2004). "Beer and Its Drinkers: An Ancient Near Eastern Love Story". Near Eastern Archaeology. 67 (2): 84–95.
- "The Backlash Against Plastic Straws Is Spreading. Here's How They Got So Popular in the First Place". Time. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "Monkey Business". Rensselaer. Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Spring/2015): 12–13.
- Dinhofer, M. "Drinking Straw". Google Patents. Google. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Dinhofer, Milton. "Toy Drinking Tube". Google Patents. Google. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- "Catalogue of Copyright Entries: Third Series". Google Books. The Library of Congress. January–June 1950. p. 80. Retrieved 29 December 2018.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
- Dinhofer, M. "Drinking Straw". Google Patents. Google. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Sip-N-See, Advertisement (August 14, 1951). North Adams, Massachusetts. The North Adams Transcript. p. 3.
- US 375962, Stone, Marvin, "Artificial straw", issued 1888
- Hollander, Catherine. "A Brief History of the Straw". bonappetit.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "The Backlash Against Plastic Straws Is Spreading. Here's How They Got So Popular in the First Place". Time. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "A Brief History of the Modern-Day Straw, the World's Most Wasteful Commodity". atlasobscura.com. July 7, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "Honestly, Who Likes Paper Straws?". esquire.com. March 23, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- http://www.youngscientist.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Year-5_Straws-that-Stay_YSA.pdf Year 5 – Straws that Stay
- Friedman and the Flexible Straw Archived April 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Catherine Hollander (October 2014). "A Brief History of the Straw". Bon Appetit Magazine. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- Bluestone, Judith (2005). "Crazy Straw". The Fabric of Autism: Weaving the Threads into a Cogent Theory. Sapphire Enterprises. p. 182. ISBN 9780972023528.[unreliable medical source?]
- Milk plant monthly, Volume 45, p. 68 (1956), quote: "New Flavored Straws For Use in Milk Drinks [...] A new type of straw with built-in flavor for use with milk drinks has been introduced by Flav-R Straws, Inc."
- "Drinking Straw Explained" Archived November 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Kleynerman, Stella. "The real reason McDonald's Coke tastes so good". Business Insider. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- "Would you pay $2 for a straw ? San Francisco bubble tea shops wrestle with plastic ban". usatoday.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "Va Plant Produces 4B Drinking Straws Annually". manufacturing.net (Press release). December 13, 2010. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "Not The Last Straw, But A Different One". sciencefriday.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- Post reply. "McDonald's to phase out plastic drinking straws in UK restaurants". Western Telegraph. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- Tokiwa, Yutaka; Calabia, Buenaventurada; Ugwu, Charles; Aiba, Seiichi (2009). "Biodegradability of Plastics". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 10 (9): 3722–3742. doi:10.3390/ijms10093722. PMC 2769161. PMID 19865515.
- "Stainless Steel Straws". Wednesday, 19 September 2018
- "Straw Wars: The Fight to Rid the Oceans of Discarded Plastic". National Geographic News. April 12, 2017. Archived from the original on June 29, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- Bailey, Kate. "FAQs and Links – Milo's Be Straw Free Campaign". Eco-Cycle. Archived from the original on July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- "UNDERSTANDING PLASTIC POLLUTION". Strawless Ocean. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- "California Considers $1,000 Fine for Waiters Offering Unsolicited Plastic Straws". reason.com. January 25, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- Americans Throw Out Millions Of Plastic Straws Daily. Here's What's Being Done About It
- Niraj Chokshi (July 19, 2018). "How a 9-Year-Old Boy's Statistic Shaped a Debate on Straws". New York Times.
- Jambeck, Jenna R.; Geyer, Roland; Wilcox, Chris (12 February 2015). "Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean" (PDF). Science. 347 (6223): 769. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- "Science Says: Amount of straws, plastic pollution is huge". phys.org. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
straws add up to only about 2,000 tons of the nearly 9 million tons of plastic waste that yearly hits the waters
- Schnurr, Riley E.J.; Alboiu, Vanessa; Chaudhary, Meenakshi; Corbett, Roan A.; Quanz, Meaghan E.; Sankar, Karthikeshwar; Srain, Harveer S.; Thavarajah, Venukasan; Xanthos, Dirk; Walker, Tony R. (2018). "Reducing marine pollution from single-use plastics (SUPs): A review". Marine Pollution Bulletin. 137: 157–171. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.10.001.
- Patel, Prachi (February 1, 2018). "Stemming the Plastic Tide: 10 Rivers Contribute Most of the Plastic in the Oceans". Scientific American.
- Harald Franzen (30 November 2017). "Almost all plastic in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
It turns out that about 90 percent of all the plastic that reaches the world's oceans gets flushed through just 10 rivers: The Yangtze, the Indus, Yellow River, Hai River, the Nile, the Ganges, Pearl River, Amur River, the Niger, and the Mekong (in that order).
- "Current research trends on plastic pollution and ecological impacts on the soil ecosystem: A review". Environmental Pollution. 240: 387–395. 2018-09-01. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2018.05.008. ISSN 0269-7491.
- "Strong, durable and re-usable bags made from waste drinking straws in Uganda". Strawbags. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- "No straw please", plasticpollutioncoalition.org
- McDonald's pushed to ban plastic straws in the United States S.J. Mercury News (McClatchy, April 30, 2018)
- Banning straws not enough to solve plastic pollution, May warned, Financial Times (April 20, 2018)
- "Don't Bus Throw-Away Utensils and Tableware". www.skoozeme.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "'Disabled People Are Not Part of the Conversation.' Advocates Speak Out Against Plastic Straw Bans". Time. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
- CNN, Ayana Archie and Dalila-Johari Paul. "Why banning plastic straws upsets people with disabilities". CNN. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
- "Why People With Disabilities Want Bans On Plastic Straws To Be More Flexible". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
- "Plastic straws clog the ocean hurt fish. Now there's a growing movement to ban them. Are plastic straws out of time, or can they survive like plastic bags?". nbcnews.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- DeLaire, Megan (April 20, 2018). "VOTE: What do you think of a possible ban on plastic straws in Canada?". Yahoo News. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- Stewart, Nadia (May 16, 2018). "City of Vancouver votes to ban single-use plastic straws and styrofoam cups". Global News. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- "EU proposes ban on straws and other single-use plastics". BBC News. 28 May 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- Bruner, Raisa (April 19, 2018). "The U.K. Might Want to Ban All Plastic Straws and Drink Stirrers So Savor Those Sips Today". Time magazine. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- Ferro, Shaunacy (February 21, 2018). "Sip on This: The Queen Has Banned Plastic Straws at Buckingham Palace". Mental Floss. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- "REDUCTION OF POLYSTYRENE". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
- "City Newsroom - City of Santa Cruz". www.cityofsantacruz.com (Press release). Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- Straws Upon Request in the New Year - City of Alameda
- Disposable Food Ware Ordinance - City of Alameda
- Emily, Norton (August 10, 2018). "Should cities and towns ban plastic straws?". Boston Globe. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
- "Food Service Packaging Requirements". www.seattle.gov. Seattle Public Utilities. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
- "Seattle becomes the latest city to ban plastic straws and utensils". CNN. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
- Levine, Alexandra S. (May 23, 2018). "New York Today: The Scourge of Plastic Straws". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- LaMagna, Maria. "Starbucks joins McDonald's, IKEA, Seattle and Vancouver in ban on plastic straws". marketwatch.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- Daniels, Jeff (2018-09-21). "California governor signs bill to reduce plastic straw use, cut waste 'choking our planet'". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Filloon, Whitney (2018-09-21). "California Bans Restaurants From Automatically Giving Out Plastic Straws". Eater. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Brueck, Hilary (2018-09-21). "California just became the first US state to ban plastic straws in restaurants — unless customers ask". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Koseff, Alexei (2018-09-20). "You'll have to ask if you want a plastic straw in California under new law". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Brown, Edmund G. Jr. (2018-09-20). "Assembly Bill 1884 Signing Message" (PDF). Governor of California. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Vaughan, Adam (June 15, 2018). "McDonald's to switch to paper straws in UK after customer campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
- "McDonald's to replace plastic straws with paper ones in UK and Ireland branches". Sky News. June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- McMahon, Aine (June 15, 2018). "McDonald's to move from plastic to paper straws". The Irish Times. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- "McDonald's to ditch plastic straws". BBC News. June 15, 2018. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- Eitel, Barry (June 16, 2018). "McDonald's to test paper straws in US". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- "Major fast-food chain to eliminate plastic straws by year's end". CFFR. June 8, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
- "Business Directory - The Last Plastic Straw". thelastplasticstraw.org. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- Garcia, Tonya. "Starbucks and McDonald's plastic straw removal will go down well with millennials". marketwatch.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "These 8 Companies Are Ditching Plastic Straws. Here's How They Are Replacing Them". fortune.com. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- Graham, Adam H. (May 2018). "Bans on Plastic Straws Are Growing. But Is the Travel Industry Doing Enough?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "Burger King UK to Phase Out Plastic Straws and Commit to all Recyclable Packaging by 2025! - One Green Planet". www.onegreenplanet.org. 2018-06-12. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
|Look up drinking straw in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Drinking straws.|