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Lifestyle | Our Complicated Relationship With Straws

Rachel DeCavage

I’ve always considered myself to be exceptionally environmentally conscious. Not only do i recycle paper, plastic, glass & all the usual suspects, but i also find ways to reuse bottle caps, shipping pouches, plastic bread bag tags, candy wrappers. If something can’t be recycled through conventional methods, I’ll find a use for it.


Several years ago I found out a local restaurant chain was throwing away 1500 straws every 3 days & so began my stint as a plastic hoarder. Turns out that when this restaurant ordered kids cups from corporate they came with rainbow straws, but the restaurant said there wasn’t enough space on their beverage counter for both adult and youth straws… so they threw them away. I recruited some of their employees to start saving them for me and after a couple months my basement was consumed with cases of straws & I had to cease my collection efforts, but not without considerable mental anguish.


I used those straws to build awareness about waste and single use plastics when i created several trashion designs by threading them and sewing them into dresses. I still have all of the trashion looks (as they were built to last) as well as thousands of those straws.



I felt pretty jazzed about the final look of these pieces but inside I had a dirty little secret; straws are my vice.


I LOVE drinking out of straws. LOVE IT! I prefer a straw with any iced drinks (coffee, water, margaritas) because I apparently have no control and will spill ice all over my lap without one. I always told myself that as long as I do great on 99.9% of everything else for the planet I can get away with using straws.


Despite watching the sea turtle video countless times and bursting out in tears EVERY. TIME. I still continued to use straws on a semi-regular basis.



Then. One day. White Birch Straws from Kikkerland came into my life and I. WAS. OBSESSED! They really elevate the aesthetic of my vodka sodas.



People often ask me, “don’t you hate the taste of paper?” To which I reply, “Don’t you hate the taste of plastic?” We’ve all gotten used to the taste of plastic in our food, our mouths, but plastic is pretty nasty stuff and so, yeah, I quite ENJOY the feeling of paper in my beverage because i don’t feel like it’s going to poison me.


I had completely switched to paper straws at home but was still guilty of single-use when I grabbed coffee on the go. I decided to leave a pack of paper straws in my glovebox as a sensible solution. On day one with this new tactic it took approximately 60 seconds for the plastic lid on my to-go cup to cinch the straw and make it impossible to drink out of. I was surprised and supremely irritated but I knew I had to find a new solution, because, yet again, I spilled coffee in my lap trying to drink like a normal person.


That’s when I bought an acrylic tumbler from my friend Brittany at Glitter & Bold, and because I drop and destroy everything I own, I crushed the tumbler almost immediately. BUT the acrylic straw survived. As much as I detest plastic, this acrylic straw probably stopped me from using a few thousand disposable straws over the course of the past couple years.


This has been a decade long quest to purge single-use straws from my life; how can I expect others who don’t love the Earth as much as I do, to make this effort? Honestly, the FACTS are pretty motivating.


It takes approximately 200 years for a single use plastic straw to decompose.
Americans use 500 million straws EVERY DAY; enough to circle the Earth 2.5 times.
Every year 1 million seabirds and 100,000 ocean animals die from ingesting plastics they mistake for food.

At cinder + salt, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Starting this month, customers will receive a free stainless steel drinking straw with their purchase.



If you’re like me, you’re sensitive to the taste of metal, so stainless steel straws (while ideal for the planet) can actually ruin your drinking experience. That’s why this fall we’re introducing several new straw-solutions in the shop. We want our store to be a hub for sustainable living, and tackling straw consumption is issue #1.


In July we launched our new “Unicorns Are People Too” collection and have introduced a bright collection of Candy Stripe Acrylic Straws along with it. Playful + bright, these straws are great for kids and adults alike, are dishwasher safe and can last for years (hopefully cutting back on one’s single-use consumption). You can get them in store or on our site for just $2 each!



And if you’re super fancy, our new glass straws are a must-have. Hand-blown in Oregon, we’re now stocking straight and bent straws in clear and colored glass in a variety of lengths. Side note : while merchandising these in the store I dropped half of them in one fell swoop and almost died with anxiety from the clatter of glass as it hit the floor. But none of them broke! They’re made with a highly resilient borosylicate glass that, with normal use, can last a lifetime.


Join us in our quest to rid the Earth of single-use plastics; take an easy first step by switching your straw. And remember, FREE stainless steel straw (one per person) with a purchase at our shop (or online) all month!






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