Tips&TricksAre your eco-friendly straws safe? Surprising risks of paper and bamboo alternatives

Are your eco‑friendly straws safe? Surprising risks of paper and bamboo alternatives

Few people know the truth about drinking straws.
Few people know the truth about drinking straws.
Images source: © Pixabay | 2091782

3:57 PM EST, December 31, 2023

Ecology and environmental protection are some of the most severe topics up for discussion today. Our awareness increases yearly, which is encouraging, but unfortunately, many individuals still continue to harm our planet out of ignorance or malice. An easy swap of everyday objects, like straws, can make a difference. However, recent studies show that even paper straws may not be the best option.

Are Plastic Straws Damaging?

As we all know, plastic isn't a favorable solution; hence, we are searching for environmentally friendly alternatives. Products made from natural materials and paper have been popular substitutes for years, including straws, now commonly available in paper variants. Researchers from the University of Antwerp have conducted an in-depth analysis of these paper straws.

The experts selected paper and bamboo straws from 39 different manufacturers to check if they contain substances potentially harmful to our health. It was hypothesized that some of these straws might contain perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), which can react with acids. PFAS are commonly used in industry and can adversely affect our health, causing gastric diseases, increasing harmful cholesterol levels, and raising the risk of developing cancer.

Are Paper Straws Harmful?

The study results were shocking, with 18 out of 20 paper straws containing the harmful PFAS substance. The bamboo straws weren't much safer, as four out of five were found to be toxic. Eco-friendly material doesn't necessarily equate to safety. This study shows that what's good for the environment might pose risks to our health, which is not the intended outcome.

What's a Safe Replacement for Plastic Straws?

Given the potential health risks, the safest option would be to completely abstain from using paper and bamboo straws. However, if we only use straws occasionally, there's less cause for concern.

It's best to give up paper and bamboo straws for drinks.
It's best to give up paper and bamboo straws for drinks.© Freepik

For those who regularly use straws, stainless steel straws are a better alternative. These are durable, reusable, and pose no health risks. After use, they can be easily cleaned with a brush or dishwasher, providing years of service without harming the environment.

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