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Humans love to suck: glass, steel and bamboo alternatives to plastic straws

The human habit of using straws is older than The Holy Bible, seriously! In fact, the oldest drinking straw was found in a sumerian tomb dated from 3,000 B.C.E. Straws are a useful tool for helping children, elder or disabled people to drink. What’s more, straws are a cool way to prevent the ice of your mojito to spill out of the glass, hitting directly your face when you are trying to slurp the final drops. Having said that, what’s wrong with straws?

International free straw day

 

What’s wrong with straws?

The heartbroken video of the sea turtle suffering from an embedded straw into the nose, was a warning of the alarming situation that we are creating by using single use plastic items. In the United States, 500 million straws are used and discarded every day, enough straws to wrap around the earth’s circumference 2’5 times a day. The UK throws away 8.5 billion straws each year, 4.8 billion in Germany and 3.2 in France. The plastic straws average use is 20 minutes and it takes 500 years to decompose and as far as we know does not disappear. Ever. Every single pieces of plastic ever made, is still out there in some form. There’s is no such thing as throwing it ‘away.’ There is no away. Tossed ‘away’ means it either ends up in landfill for hundreds of years, is burned releasing toxins into the atmosphere, ends up in nature, or is recycled. The plastic straw is in the top six of single use plastics found in the ocean.

What can we do to beat the plastic straw?

Do we really need the straw in our drinks? No we don’t. But it still is a routine add-on in most of the world. Say no to the straw before you order your drink. Or bring your own. By proactively showing up with your reusable straw you can say no to many plastic ones. Many options are out there: glass, stainless steel or bamboo. Heck, you can even use the branch of a papaya tree as a straw.

If you still love to suck, here you can find 6 plastic straw alternatives to keep sucking in a sustainable way.

Plastic Straw Alternatives

1: Glass Straws

Glass straws are like a little piece of art, can be designed in different shapes, colours and do not absorb the taste of other products like reusable plastics straws do. Cons? Glass is not as resistant as stainless steel so it is not the best option for travellers or for children. If you are someone who likes classy stuff for your cocktails or smoothies, glass straws are your best option. Where to buy glass straws?

Glass Straws in USA/ Canada

Glass Straws in the UK

2: Stainless steel straws

Stainless steel straws, are the perfect travelling mate, resistants, unbreakable and on budget, do not absorb any flavour. Also recommended for children. Cons? They don’t look as classy as glass straws and if you don’t like the texture of the metal it can be unsatisfying. Personally, using my stainless steel straw has saved me hundreds of plastic ones. Where to buy stainless steel straws?

Stainless steel straws in the US / Canada

Stainless steel straws in the UK

Roestvrij Stalen rietjes in Nederland

Another plastic free solution out there is the stainless steel filter straw from LifeStraw. They developed a plastic-free stainless steel straw with filter to always have safe drinkingwater during your travels!

stainless steel straw

3: Bamboo Straws

Think what nature provides. Bamboo straws are a natural and organic option that you can even DIY at your home. My parents have a big bamboo bush. We cut some, sand them a little bit, and you have a straw. And nature provides other options. In the tropics for example you have the papaya tree of which the branches are little pipes. I’m sure other options exist. Just make sure you don’t destroy what does not need to be destroyed. Cons? Unlike glass and metal, bamboo straws could get moldy if you don’t wash and dry them properly.
Where to buy Bamboo straws?

Bamboo Straws in the USA / Canada

Bamboo Straws in the UK

Bamboe rietjes in Nederland

DIY bamboo straws

I make bamboo straws from the black bamboo in my parents garden. I don’t sell them but if you like one you can get them HERE by becoming a Patreon.

4: Edible straws

How cool if you could eat the straw after you finished your drink? Check out what … has created! Now this adds to the drinking experience! Where to buy edible straws?

5: Paper Straws

Are paper straws biodegradable? Some are but not all. Sometimes the ink on the straws is plastic. Paper straws are progression and better than plastic straws. Since most of the paper straws are meant to be used only once, and it still cost a lot of energy to manufacture them, the options above are a better pick.

Paper Straws (US)

6: Straws made from straw

Where do you think the name ‘straw’ comes from? For centuries all drinking straws were made from the stalks of grain. Nature gives us straws. The real hay straw is the perfect alternative for the ‘single use’ plastic straw. They grow in abudance, suck fine, and break down quickly too. And are cheap. I wish to see these and just these in bars

Hay Straws (US)

Hay Straws (Holland)

 

What is your favourite alternative to the plastics straw?

 


Disclaimer: By buying a reusable straw you will automatically support the oceanpreneurial efforts. As always I only recommended ‘things’ I fully support. This post contains some affiliate links. If you click and buy something, the oceanpreneur will earn a tiny commission.

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“Don’t just accept the future, go shape it.” Take-aways from the Our Ocean Youth Summit

The last week I had the privilege to be present at the Our Ocean Youth & Our Ocean conference in Malta. An important gathering by and for the world! Here high-level leaders came together to emphasize on the urgency of improving the health of our ocean. And to make commitments on what each one is going to do to really turn the tide! How was it?

A life-changing experience!

Not only for me, but for everyone living on this planet today! Really amazing to see such a big presence from presidents, ministers, EU, UN, ocean leaders and organisations from all over the world for the common goal of saving the ocean. Countries from all over the world have made big pledges to take the protection of the ocean to the highest level! 700 concrete, measurable and tracked commitments have been made! Since we’re ALL dependent on the ocean! And we have NO time to lose! 

Read all the commitments

here. There’s still hope. We must save what’s left!

Powerful quotes, statements and food for thought from the summit:

“We know now what we could not know as a kid. We’re 8 million minds together! Our collective knowdlegde gathering capacity is a gift. We need to get better at caring and respecting. We really are sea creatures, without the ocean we cannot exist. Our life support system is grounded in the ocean. You may never touch the ocean, but the ocean touches you. We must be mindful of all actions you take. We have the power! We need to get better at caring and respecting. And we own it to the ocean. Don’t ever think it’s too late, until it’s too later.” Sylvia A. Earle of Mission Blue

“Paris & SDG 14 are critical in the survival of our species. We got to spread the word. And make ideas come to live!” – Peter Thomson. UN secretary General’s special Envoy for the Ocean.

“Our main challenge is awareness for collective change. We have to make it exciting and enticing to change behaviour.” – Frans Timmermans

Dr. Nathan Walworth from Covalence Life presented a powerful talk about the importance of the Circular Economy. “Is Climate change our biggest issue? Or is climate change a reflection of our deeper internal and external issues?” Do your habits reflect how you feel about the world?” How can we move toward a regenerative world?” “You are the future mindful culture and lifestyle for the planet: a regenerative lifestyle.” All SOA Youth participants were challenged to pick a topic and present the following day on their circular economy solution.

Oliver Steeds – CEO of Nekton (Deepsea technology and exploration) compared the ocean challenge and solution with a mountain. “Look at the challenge as climbing a mountain. Focus on 1 thing until you reach basecamp number 1. Then move on to the next basecamp.” Step by step we can make sustainable changes and reach for the top!

James Movick from the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency emphasized the importance of equity. Pacific Islanders are on the frontline feeling the effects of changes in the ocean. The islanders are highly dependent on the state of the ocean. But appetite from overseas is catching fish faster than they can rejuvenate. “Who’s equity are you looking after? How do we distribute the resource ecosystem? And how can we build equity felt by those on the ground?” As individuals, question where you fish is coming from. Is it legal?

Brett Jenks – CEO of Rare. “Everything what’s wrong with the world gives us the opportunity to change it, “There are so many reasons to celebrate. Given the evidence, we’re in a good place. But we have work to do!” Understanding how the minds works, is what’s going to change it.”

John Frank – Vice President EU Government affairs of Microsoft, mentioned that true fact that Ocean problems don’t happen in the ocean! He said the future is not inevitable. But each one of is is capable to bring something to the table. “Don’t just accept the future, go shape it,” – John Frank. Powerful!

“You are not apart from nature, you are part from nature!”Celine Cousteau

Choose the best YOU can in every situation! Above all…

“Make ocean action fun and stay healthy so that we can keep going for a long period of time!” Adrian Grenier Lonely Whale Foundation 

A few takeaways from the Our Ocean conference 2017 in Malta:

  • Climate Change is #1 on the agenda! Marine litter climbed high up the ladder for urgency! We must turn the plastic tide: government, business, and individuals!
  • Major announcements for new Marine Protected Areas all over the world! (Currently, only 3.1% of the ocean are protected!)
  • More than six billion euros committed by public and private actors!
  • Sustainable Ocean Alliance announced the SOA Youth Ocean Solutions accelerator! A place for the youngsters to make the innovative ocean ideas happen
  • Keywords! Blue and circular economy, innovation, and urgency!
  • Acknowledgement of the importance of having more young ocean leaders.

It has been so empowering to be amongst others dedicating their lives to saving the ocean. Meet up, team up and taking action! We can’t settle for little improvements. Big changes must be made urgently so the next generations in every layer of our ecosystem can thrive too! We can do this! No one can do this alone, but ALL together we can!

I also really like to emphasize we really have NO time to lose! We don’t see it because we don’t live below the surface (at least most of us humans ;)). But we are all dependent on the ocean! For food, oxygen, jobs, health and happiness. The forests of the seas are dying, the ocean is becoming acid and species are getting lost. Ok. On to the good news -> there is still hope! But we must ALL take collective action. NOW!

What can YOU do? Make conscious decisions in every choice you’re making! What’s the best you can choose? Educate yourself. Ask questions. Be curious! Are you a sailor? Provision carefully.  Are you a traveller? Pack with purpose. And explore the ocean! So you experience it’s magic! And it’s current state… Like, share and support the work of young ocean leaders which will help tremendously to keep us all going! Apply for the next Our Ocean conference in Bali!

EXPLORE BE CURIOUS HAVE COURAGE TAKE ACTION MAKE THE DIFFERENCE REGENERATE & CELEBRATE for our ocean

Youth

Thanks everyone but especially all you youngsters (100 attendees from 50 different countries!) for showing up, sharing your energy for our common goal to protect the ocean. A massive shout out to Daniela & team of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA Youth) for enabling the younger ocean change makers to attend this event! And to all the new #ourocean friends I’ve made! Here’s a video compiled by SOA Youth and the 100 young ocean leaders taking action for the ocean and why.

My action

Connect people to the ocean! When people can experience the ocean, they will love, understand, care, and act! I aim to help a lot in the awareness and education department by campaigning on social media, blogging, through the book I just wrote, with Ocean Nomad TV, , the build of a green Carriacou sailing sloop, and more ocean experiences in which you can take part! Stay tuned on this blog.

Oceanpreneur mission

I just made the ocean adventure travel guide: OCEAN NOMAD available! I wrote this book with the aim to help more people experience the ocean. From experience comes awareness and excitement. From that, comes caring. Ocean Nomad helps others go on sailing adventures and also includes 60 pages of what’s actually happening to the oceans and what you can do as an individual. 

No budget, no experience, no worries! Ocean Nomad provides the bearings to help the (aspiring) ocean adventurer catch a sailboat ride, safely and meaningfully. The official launch end of this month, of course, on a boat! You’re invited! You can already download the book or just have a free sneak peak. Or if you simply think this is cool but not for you, click here to tweet it to the world.

Now go out there, be curious and explore the ocean!

A few photo’s

Our Ocean conference

SOA Youth Group

The first person I met in Malta and she already made the conference week a success! Thank you Caro for your presence! Caro represents Heirstoouroceans, Mission Blue, and Marine Conservation Institute 

Presenting about Bio Plastic and the Circular economy.

Thank you Daniel from Peru for this photo!

My roomies from Palau, Seattle and Adrien Grenier of the Lonely Whale foundation

SOA Youth Group

When ocean conservationists go to a conference #plasticfree

Ocean Art

Clean Oceans International is making fuel from Plastic

Playing with the Underwater drone of Blue Eye Robotics

With Adrien Grenier of the Lonely Whale Foundation

John Kerry speaking greatly about the urgency of protecting our ocean

Mr. Faure. President of the Seychelles, an island nation on the forefront of ocean changes

Dune Ives from the Lonely Whale Foundation presenting about their #stopsucking plastic straw campaign

Dune and Her Deepness Sylvia Earle talking about the future of our ocean

With the roomies, Miel and Diluna from Palau (Heirs to our oceans) and Helena bringing Ocean & Art to the conference from Seattle

Kristina Gjerde, Law of the High Seas expert.

So honoured to meet my biggest inspiration in real. Her Deepness Sylvia Earle. If someone is creating a legacy for our ocean, it’s her!

With explorer & ocean change-maker Celine Cousteau. She rocked the final keynote at the Our Ocean Youth Summit.

Daniela announcing the SOA Youth Ocean Accelerator

Melati Wijsen rocking the stage speaking about her initiative ByeBye Plastic Bags

Dune from Lonely Whale Foundation talking straws

EU Commisioner Karmenu Vella speaking at the Our Ocean conference

Caro (Heirstoouroceans & Mission Blue) & Heather. Two beautiful endless energetic ocean change-makers (Families in Nature)

Diving in with Olivia from One More Generation and One Less Straw (Pledge here!)

I, and Anna (Oceanographer from Seattle), Daniel (Peruvean Ambassador for the Ocean), Andy – Makes artificial reef structures (Reef Life Restoration) & Olivia – campaigns against the plastic pollution with One Less Straw) All passionate young ocean change makers!

Help raise awareness about this conference, the ocean, and the youth leaders by giving it a like or share. Thanks! If you like to receive updates on ocean adventure travel & conservation splashes, sign up for my once in a while Ocean Splash.

 

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The Difference YOU make by spending local: 7 reasons

‘Buenos Dias Guapa!’, Señor Pepe says while watching the TV from his home-trainer. He’s wearing a T-shirt that says ‘Aqui todo es muy bueno‘, meaning ‘Here’s everything very good.’ Pepe moves from his home-trainer to the counter where his ‘caña‘ (glass of beer) is located. Before I order I’m already offered to try a piece of the local cheese. ‘How was the beach today?’ he asks. I tell him about my day and order some seasonal fruit. Read more