More Singaporeans are embracing the eco-friendly lifestyle and one of the changes that many have made is switching from plastic straws to reusable ones.
There are two kinds of people — those who prefer bamboo straws and those who would opt for metal straws instead (excluding the daredevils who prefer glass straws), but which is the better choice? Is there any difference?
After trying both out and speaking to the founders of Seastainable Co. and Bamboo Straws Worldwide, here’s the verdict.
I would recommend purchasing metal straws from Seastainable Co., a local social enterprise that carries them in two sizes and a range of different colours. Also, they have the lowest price point I’ve seen so far in Singapore.
As its founder, Sam, explained: “We don’t want to make sustainability expensive, therefore we try to be as affordable as possible for others to encourage a plastic straw-free lifestyle.”
In addition, 50% of profits are donated to marine conservation efforts in Singapore and Philippines. Having seen first-hand the effects of pollution in oceans during her job as a shark research assistant in Cebu, Sam feels a strong conviction towards conservation efforts.
Seastainable’s straws are made from food grade stainless steel and are thus dishwasher-safe and will last for as long as typical stainless steel cutlery, i.e. up to 10 years!
Sam prefers metal straws as she finds them easier to keep clean and to carry around. They also last longer than bamboo alternatives, which may be more easily damaged.
Local brand, Bamboo Straws Worldwide, is one of the pioneers when it comes to providing bamboo straws.
The straws are produced by South East Asian makers and are made from a blend of homegrown organic bamboo and wild organic bamboo. With no machines or other by-products involved in the production, these straws are special because they’re 100% natural and can be returned to the Earth without leaving a trace.
As its founder, Mel, explained, a bamboo straw can potentially last for years with proper care. But, it is preferable to replace them more often if they’re shared by many people, such as in families, restaurants or cafes.
Though they might not last as long as their counterparts, Mel prefers bamboo straws as they’re the gentlest. “There’s something lovely about holding an organic, from-nature product”, she added.
The usual Metal Straw Set from Seastainable is priced at S$7.50 and comes with a 20cm regular straw, a 20cm bubble tea straw, two accompanying straw cleaners and a recycled linen pouch.
The coloured straws are slightly more expensive, with options like Black Chrome, Iridescent and Champagne. The Champagne Straw Set (S$10) was so gorgeous that I didn’t even think twice about forking out a bit more for it.
Meanwhile, the Boba Linen Set 4 from Bamboo Straws Worldwide, came with a 20cm straw for normal drinks and a 20cm XXXL straw for boba drinkers and a linen straw wrap. Priced at USD12 (approx. S$16), it’s costlier and the straw cleaners are sold separately at USD1.50 (approx. S$2) each.
Delivery-wise, both sets came in recyclable packaging and the ones from Bamboo Straws Worldwide took about two weeks to reach me while Seastainable’s arrived within a week. However, I’ve noticed that Seastainable’s straw sets tend to sell out quickly so do keep an eye out for announcements of restocks!
After trying both out, I really felt that there wasn’t much difference between using a metal straw versus using a bamboo one. Both were convenient to bring out once I made it a habit.
Also, if I was out and about and there was no convenient place to wash them immediately after use, I would just dry them as best as I could and wrap them up with a tissue paper to wash later.
But, I did have some trouble when it came to my bubble tea. I usually drink it immediately after purchase but now I find myself having to wait till I have access to a penknife or scissors.
As you can see, the blunt edges were unable to cut through the plastic and I didn’t dare to use brute force for fear of having the whole cup explode. A neat trick my friend taught me is to ask for a macchiato knife and keep it in the linen pouch for future uses. Or, you can always just bring your own bottle to solve this problem.
If I really had to nitpick, I would say that I prefer the metal straws in terms of utility. For one, they are slightly slimmer and felt easier to clean.
Also, if you can tell from the photo above, the bottom part of this bamboo straw is of a darker hue than the top portion. That’s because I accidentally left it sitting in my drink and forgot about it for hours.
Afterwards, I tried rinsing it several times but just couldn’t remove the stain. But, this of course doesn’t affect the use.
I really wanted to come up with a concrete conclusion after my experience but… I can’t. What I’ve realised is that it’s really up to an individual’s preference! Either way, both materials get the job done well.
Perhaps if you’re like me and you prefer something sleek and very hardy then go for Seastainable’s metal straws. But, I can also understand what Mel meant about loving the bamboo straw because it’s 100% from nature. So, if you’re someone who appreciates nature a lot, that might be a better choice.
Ultimately, as Mel puts it, “all reusable straws are good!” She also shared that the trick to starting a more sustainable lifestyle is to do it step by step.
A good way to begin is by cutting out single-use disposables. Sam also admitted that it was her friend’s gift that spurred her on and guess what that gift was? A metal straw that she’s been using for two years.
Prices: S$7.50 – S$20
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