On January 3rd National Drinking Straw Day commemorates the date in 1888 that Marvin C. Stone received the patent for the paper drinking straw. Since then, a variety of drinking straws are used.
- The United States Patent Office granted Mavin G. Stone, his Patent # US375962 A on January 3, 1888.
- The first straw Stone made was just paper wound around a pencil to make a thin tube, and he then slid the pencil out from one end and applied glue between the strips.
- Stone later further refined his invention by building a machine that would coat the outside of the paper with wax to hold it together, so the glue wouldn’t dissolve in the Bourbon he liked to drink.
- It is believed the Sumerians used the very first drinking straws for drinking beer. Archeologists speculate they used the straws to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation that would have sunk to the bottom. The oldest drinking straw known to be in existence was found in a Sumerian tomb dated 3,000 B.C.E. This found straw was a gold tube inlaid with a precious blue stone.
- The Argentines used a similar metallic device called a bombilla. Used for hundreds of years, the bombilla acted as both a straw and a sieve.
- Today, manufacturers make a variety of reusable straws. From stainless steel and glass to bamboo and silicone, they not only save money and the environment, but they are also fun to use. They come in a variety of creative shapes and colors.
- 35,000. That’s the number of plastic straws the average American uses in a lifetime.
- Every single day, Americans toss 500 million plastic straws in the trash. That’s enough to fill 125 school buses, or circle the Earth 2.5 times!
- Top Ten in the Ocean. According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic straws are in the top ten marine debris items (here’s looking at you, cig butts and single-use shopping bags in positions #1 and #2!)
- 2050. At the current rate, this is the year in which the weight of plastic in the ocean will exceed the weight of all the fish in the seas.
- At the beginning of July 2018, Seattle became the largest U.S. city to ban plastic straws.
- The Strawless in Seattle campaign encouraged businesses to voluntarily give up plastic straws, keeping 2.3 million of the persistent tubes out of the environment.
- Discarded straws aren’t biodegradable. Instead, they break down into small particles called microplastics. These plastic fragments stay in the environment forever and are harmful to all its inhabitants.
- Starbucks plans to phase out plastic straws by 2020.
- Bon Appétit Management, a food service company with 1,000 U.S. locations, announced last May it will phase out plastic straws.
- Alaska Airlines will be one of the first airlines to phase out plastic straws and stirrers, in part thanks to an environmentally conscious girl scout.
- It wasn’t until the 1930s that straws gained the ability to bend. Watching his daughter struggle to easily reach her milkshake through a straight paper straw, inventor Joseph Friedman inserted a screw into the straw, wrapped floss around the screw’s grooves, and took out the screw. With indentations, the straw could easily bend without breaking. Friedman patented his invention and created the Flex-Straw Company to churn out his design.
- Hospitals were among the first to embrace bendable straws, because they allowed patients to drink while lying in bed.
- Some Straw alternatives:
- Metal: Made of stainless steel, aluminum, or even titanium, metal straws have become a popular alternative. They draw some criticism—for having a metallic taste, conducting heat from a hot drink, and clanking against the teeth—but they’re durable to transport and reuse.
- Paper: Paper drinking straws, which date from 1888. They become mushy and can leave a taste or fibers in drinks.
- Silicone: This material provides a popular soft alternative to metal reusable straws. One company has developed a silicone straw with an extra environmental twist: When burned, it turns into biologically inert ash.
- Glass: Though glass straws may be more breakable and thus less portable than reusable straws of other materials, they hold up well to washing and reuse.
- Hard plastic: Reusable straws made from rigid plastic are portable, easy to clean, and reasonably durable.
- Bamboo: This natural material can be sustainably produced and is a plant-based alternative to fabricated straws. Bamboo straws are reusable but can be hard to clean completely and may absorb flavors.
National Geographic (Straw alternatives)