This should not be “replace plastic straws”, this should be “refuse straws”. While there are situations where straws can be useful (milkshakes, anyone?) or even necessary (such as with the differently-abled), there is otherwise absolutely no reason to be using a straw. The hygiene argument holds no water because if you ordered coffee, wine, or whiskey you’d be drinking from the glass or cup, so why do need one for your Coke or cocktail? Besides, if a restaurant is giving you dirty glasses you should be just as worried about the rest of the crockery and utensils they’re using to serve you, never mind what may be happening in the kitchen.
I always refuse straws, even when the waiter says, “but it’s paper, not plastic”. It still comes in a wrapper, it’s still waste, and it still requires energy and water to source the materials, as well as manufacture and distribute the end product. That’s not to say we shouldn’t seek alternatives or should stop drinking milkshakes. We just need to be cognisant that replacing items is not a solution to pollution, just a band-aid. The sustainability journey starts with “reduce”, then “reuse”, then “recycle”.
Zero waste tip: Refuse straws.
Zero plastic tip: Carry reusable straws.