Zero Waste Living: Glass Dharma Reusable Glass Straws

Zero Waste Living: Glass Dharma Reusable Glass Straws

Plastic straws. Is any single-use plastic more wasteful than the plastic straw? (Okay, yes; I can certainly think of a few other examples, but plastic straws have got to be up there with the best – or worst – of them.) I’ve been using a stainless steel straw for a while, but I don’t like the way it feels against my teeth, and it’s quite hard to keep clean as you can’t see inside.

So when Glass Dharma, who make reusable glass straws, asked me if I’d be interested in trying out their glass straws, of course I was more than happy to oblige! I’ve brought them on holiday with me, as that’s the time when I’m eating (and drinking) out more often, and at unfamiliar places where I don’t know the local straw policy!

One of the great things about Glass Dharma is they actually understand the plastic waste problem, and they don’t send their straws out in a heap of plastic bubble wrap. Each straw is packaged in a card box, and the parcel was plastic-free too. Although the straws are made from glass, it’s toughened (they use borosilicate – the strongest commercially available glass) and they offer a lifetime guarantee against breakage.

GlassDharma plastic free drinking straws plastic-free packaging
Four Glass Dharma straws, with no plastic in sight!
GlassDharma plastic-free drinking straws
They sent me four different straws to try, and a miniature brush for easy cleaning! There is a decorated straw, a bendy straw, a bubble tea straw (which is wider) and a shorter straw.

I have plastic-free living friends who question the need for straws at all. Whilst I agree that often straws are unnecessary and I always refuse disposable ones, I have found at least three situations when a straw (reusable only, of course) is preferable to no straw.

The first is when drinking smoothies or juice. Because you end up with moustache marks in the colour of your drink that can be surprisingly hard to wash off. If you ever drink out of a glass jar, all trendy like, you make end up with juice on your nose. It has happened to me. With turmeric. And with green smoothies. Those drinks stain!

The second is when ordering frozen drinks. I remember when my parents and my boyfriend’s parents met for the first time, and we all went out for dinner. Someone ordered a daiquiri. I insisted there were no straws. When the drink arrived, it was frozen (of course), and the waitress, who had remembered there was no straw requested, asked if we’d still like no straw before handing one over with a very smug expression! Now I have my own reusable straws that is something that will never happen again!

The third is when ordering a drink that requires stirring or mixing. Of course, you could request a spoon, but depending on the glass, a long-handled spoon might be needed and might not be available. My mother drinks tomato juice with tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. They always give her a plastic stirrer to mix it all together. She was under the impression that they were washed and reused, which of course they aren’t. She double-checked with the bar person who told her they get put in the recycling (which doesn’t neccessarily mean they get recycled, that depends on the company that manages the recycling; it does mean they are single use).

This possibly one of those single-use plastic items that is actually more pointless than the straw: the single-use stirrer!
This is possibly one of those single-use plastic items that is actually more pointless than the straw: the single-use stirrer!

The next step was taking them out for testing! I thought I’d share the work with my straw-using friends and family, to make sure they all got a workout.

First up - the decorated straw, as tested by my mother for her regular tomato juice. No silly plastic stirrer needed!
First up – the decorated straw, as tested by my mother for her regular tomato juice. No silly plastic stirrer needed!
IMG_20140824_101144
Bendy straw!
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Bendy straw again : )

I thought the glass straws were great. Glass feels better in my mouth than stainless steel (and definitely plastic!), and being able to see if it was clean was definitely a bonus that the stainless steel straw doesn’t offer. I’ve been carrying mine around in the boxes they came in, and that seems to offer enough protection. The glass straws are taller than the stainless steel one I have, which fits neatly into my To-Go Wear bamboo cutlery set, but the shorter Glass Dharma straw fits. I prefer them to the stainless steel straws and I’d definitely recommend them.

I love anything that makes zero waste (and plastic-free) living easier, and I love it when companies really get behind the reasons why people want to live this way (to avoid waste, to avoid chemicals, to protect the environment and live sustainably). Glass Dharma do this perfectly, and they also make products that are designed to last (no built-in obsolescence here).

Just to clarify, Glass Dharma sent me the straws, but my opinions are my own. As always! : )

18 Responses to Zero Waste Living: Glass Dharma Reusable Glass Straws

  1. I haven’t bought any reusable straws because I didn’t know how I would keep them clean. Now that I see you can get a brush for cleaning I may break down and purchase a couple to have handy.

    • That was the problem I had with the stainless steel one I had. I didn’t have a brush, and to see if it was clean involved peering down it. Cleaning it was a bit of a challenge, involving lots of soaking and drinking water with dubious flavour through it until it tasted clean! The brush that comes with these is soooo useful!

  2. I’d have to agree with your friends – straws seem so unnecessary to me. I know everyone is different in what they view as essential, but for me they seem like a lot of work to keep clean – I’d rather just wash glasses as is!

    • At home I don’t use straws, it’s more for out-and-about. Particularly where places give straws automatically, saying I have my own can work better than asking for no straw. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say they are an “essential”, but I have definitely found them to be useful. As much for handing out to people I’m with to stop THEM using straws as for me!

  3. Thanks for a very informative post Lindsay. I personally don’t use straws at all, but my 10 year old son uses one every day for his chocolate or banana milkshake at home (made in a tall glass) and I currently rewash plastic ones until they die. Probably not that hygienic, so now I know there is an alternative, I can ditch the crappy plastic ones. Cause those glass ones look so cool, I think I might have to find a reason to use one myself! :)

  4. For me, it’s the balance of carrying it around, and just going without and the occasional use (with a blended ice drink, for example). I find it hard to carry my bamboo cutlery and keep clean – what do you do?

    • My bamboo cutlery comes in a case, which protects it in my bag. The straw can fit in there too, or else I use the original box. If I use it I make sure I wipe it or even rinse it if I can to make cleaning properly easier later. I’ve been asking places to rinse out my straw and they’ve been happy to oblige – one guy even insisted he put it in his glass-washing machine! I doubt I’d ever need to use either more than once per day so I just wash them when I get home. Does that help?

  5. I had two wonderful Dharma straws which I kept in our car for those rare times that we went to a restaurant. Wouldn’t you know … my car was stolen and along with it, the straws. Now I just do without a straw altogether. :-(

    • Oh no! I hope you didn’t lose too many other things : ( Was it recently? Did you replace the car or decide to do without that as well?

      I wonder if the thieves even knew what they were…?

      • Unfortunately, the thieves did get a lot … we had some tools in the back, a gps, and an emergency kit. It happened several months ago. Yep, we replaced the car … bought a used car (kinda like recycling). I’d love to do without a car but we live in the country and there’s no public transportation … and no stores close by. So a car is necessary … although our’s stays parked most of the time. I kept the straws in the box to protect them so I suppose they knew what they were.

        • Oh no, how annoying >: (

          I hear you…living in the country means more space and growing your own, but then you need a car! City living means relying on others to grow our food, but public transport is so much better. Ideally I’d like both! But probably won’t happen. Ah well, another compromise : /

  6. I’m not a straw user but your 3 situations where they can be useful were certainly food for thought. I love that they come with those little brushes as I’d always wondered about the hygiene factor!

    • Only one came with a brush – four brushes would have been very wasteful! ; P I’ve actually found it more helpful to temporarily donate them to friends/family in need…definitely increases their usage significantly!

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