Do Paper Straws Make Sense Today?

May 2009

sodaShortly after Ted's Montana Grill opened seven years ago, the restaurant instituted compostable straws in keeping with Ted's environmentally friendly policies. The restaurant was so committed to those forward-thinking ideals that it contracted a toilet paper company to make the ultra-compact paper cylinders specially for the restaurant. A few weeks ago, though, when I stopped in to the Ted's in Belmar for an early dinner, I didn't feel very sustainable after using two straws. The first became so waterlogged it began to bend and flake apart in my glass, so I had to open a second, which lasted through the rest of my meal.

In recent years, I've become accustomed to straws (and forks and knives) made of sugar cane- or corn-based plastic thanks to companies like Boulder's EcoProducts, Organixx, and Larkburger. Such utensils are fully compostable under the right heat and moisture conditions, but they still provide a normal eating experience. A plastic compostable straw does not fall apart in my Diet Coke. Of course, I appreciate the idea behind Ted's straws and the fact that they don't require special conditions to break down, but with the advent of compostable plastic, are paper straws a thing of the past?

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