Ecotaste explain why Cheap Paper Straws are a false economy
The saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. It might sound like a cliché, however most clichés are clichés for a reason, and in the case of paper straws, it couldn't be more true.
The idea that someone can type a search term like “cheap paper straws” in to Google, and make a purchase that they will be happy with, is in essence, a strange logic. A good analogy would be the car analogy. If you we're to go to your favourite search engine and type “cheap Mercedes”, for sure you would get thousands of results. Should you then purchase a “cheap Mercedes”, when the car arrives, you can be sure that in some way of another, the performance would not be as good as a correctly priced Mercedes.
Since the release of popular TV shows Plant Earth 2, governments, businesses and individuals have been quick the jump on the paper straw bandwagon. It's fair to say that plastic straws have become the poster boy of plastic pollution, and everyone is keen to get on board and show their commitment to saving the planet by proudly brandishing their paper straws in bars, restaurants and on social media. Of course, plastic straws have been an affordable consumable for years and years, but now the customer demands an eco friendly alternative, paper eco straws naturally cost more, which leads people in to searching for a cheaper alternative.
Ecotaste are here to tell you that your quest to find cheap paper straws, will no doubt end in disappointment, and here's why...
Paper straws are made by taking thin strips of paper, and rolling them together with glue. The machine makes a long paper straw, and then cuts them in to the desired length. Should the glue in the straw not be the correct consistency, the blades on the paper straw manufacturing machine not be sharp, or the straw machine is running too fast to allow the adhesives and the paper to bond, then, when placed in to liquid, the thing strips of paper can start to unravel.
Swelling and bloating
The paper and the adhesives, combined with the manufacturing process are essential to manufacturing an eco straw that works. Paper naturally absorbs water. Non-toxic and safe to consume adhesives are water soluble, and the machines that manufacture paper straws are complicated by their nature. If you don't get the balance of these three elements perfect, bloating and swelling is inevitable. With cheap paper straws, you may often notice that the end of the straw that sits in the drink starts to swell and close, which spoils the drink experience.
Paper straws are built in a similar way to toilet paper, with layers of paper laid on top of each other. People are used to buying “3 ply” toilet paper, and such papers with less layers of material (2-ply for instance) are often avoided by the consumer. Paper straws which are constructed of fewer layers of paper, or with lesser quality, thinner paper can cause the straw to collapse under minimal forces such as putting the straw in to a glass with ice, or even the act of placing the straw lightly in the lips.
Where quality paper straws can be better than a plastic straw is in their rigidity. If you were to try and stir a drink with lots of ice using a plastic straw, the straw might bend. The thinner walls of plastic straws are not very rigid at all, and the same goes for cheap paper straws. A good quality paper straw is rigid enough to place in a drink and stir it without bending. An extra added benefit of this is that a separate stirrer is not required, saving more plastic from the earths oceans and landfill sites.
Paper straws will never last as long as a plastic straw. However a good quality paper straw should last long enough for the average person to finish their drink, and perform the regular functions of a plastic straw.