The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

September 8, 2008

GlassDharma makes drinking fun again!

GlassDharma reusable glass drinking strawGoing plastic-free has not been a huge burden, for the most part. We’ve got awesome bulk foods stores and farmers markets here in the Bay Area, and most shops are happy to package purchases or leftovers in my reusable containers. But a few changes I’ve made have been actual sacrifices, and ordering iced drinks without straws was one of them. Ice hurts my teeth. Cold drinks are just so much more pleasant and fun through a straw. But I gave them up when I gave up plastic. And now, thanks to a tip from FPF reader Lisa Sharp, I am straw-free no longer!

(And yes, I’m aware there are those who will say drinking iced cold beverages is no good for the digestion in the first place, but to me, a little iced tea in the summer is a beautiful thing.)

According to Glass Dharma, its drinking straws are made from the strongest glass commercially available and can be used over and over again indefinitely. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical, so I wrote to the company, and they were kind enough to send me a sample to review.

Glass Dharma reusable glass drinking straws

Glass Dharma reusable glass drinking strawNot only are the straws strong, but they are also beautiful, with decorative colored accents. And they come with little cleaning brushes, because how else would you clean out a drinking straw? Of the various sizes and shapes, I thought my favorite would be the long bent straw, but actually, the regular-sized straight one feels the best to me. And the short one will be great the next time I have a cocktail at The Mint — as long as I can remember to request “no straw” when I order.

Yay! Combined with the fizzy water from my Penguin, which by the way, is still awesome, GlassDharma makes plastic-free drinking fun again.
Glass Dharma reusable glass drinking straws

The packaging of these straws is almost perfect. Plain cardboard boxes without excess filler. I actually didn’t believe they’d make it through the mail without any breakage, but make it they did. The only plastic was the packing tape, and David Leonhardt, the owner of GlassDharma, addressed that issue in his email to me before I even asked the question. Here’s what he wrote when I asked him about his company and philosophy:

I’ve been a lampworker (glassblower) for over 10 years. I was doing some work for a local glass shop in town and noticed that the owner had glass drinking straws for sale. I had never heard of these before and was always intrigued by something made out of glass that I hadn’t thought of.

As most of us know, the abundance of scientific reports warn us about the dangers of plastics leaching toxins into our food supply. This has increased demand for better alternatives to safeguard our health.

I immediately recognized that here was a partial solution to our “plastics problem” that was amazingly simple. So I embarked on an adventure to “Save the World — 1 Straw at a Time”. It has been an amazing experience.

As a teen in the 60’s, I saw how our society was trashing the planet, but felt helpless to do anything about it, and became rather apathetic. Since starting this project, I find my eyes are opened more every day as to the small, simple things we all can do. I also realize that as a manufacturer, my effect on the planet is far more reaching than that as an individual.

For instance, as I recently received a new shipment of packaging tape, I realized that there are better solutions to ship products with. I will soon be educating myself as to the most feasible method of shipping without the use of toxic tape.

Another unexpected benefit that has emerged from this project is being able to help those with special needs. From stroke victims, quadriplegics, cancer victims (and survivors), there has been quite a few requests for unique diameters, lengths and shapes to assist those who’s options are limited. I feel blessed to be able to serve in this capacity

These things have been the driving force that motivates me, especially when entering uncharted territory as the business grows. I have said since starting GlassDharma that “I would be happy to provide 2% of the population in this country with glass drinking straws”. (That’s about 6 million straws) I think that is a worthy goal.

reusable utensils and glass strawGlassDharma straws are made in Fort Bragg, California and come with a lifetime guarantee against breakage. GlassDharma has also begun selling little carrying cases (“straw cozies“) to protect the straws while in a purse or backpack. But, I didn’t need one. One or two straws will fit perfectly in the To-Go Ware utensil case that I already carry with me. In fact, a few nights ago while having dinner at a restaurant with Michael, I was able to whip out my glass straw and say, “Please don’t bring me a straw. I have my own.”

And I do want to address the concern of one anonymous commenter who responded to my mention of glass drinking straws in a previous post, “But… what’s the point of reducing plastic just to buy more little items?”

While I do agree wholeheartedly that it’s important to reduce our consumption and purchasing overall, I am not a Spartan. I enjoy having some nice, quality things that will last a long time and give pleasure. And I see no problem with supporting a domestic company that is handmaking items to help us reduce our dependence on disposables. Frankly, drinking cold drinks without a straw sucks for me. In a comment a few months back, Crunchy Chicken coined the term “hair shirt environmentalism,”. She was referring to washing my hair with baking soda, which has not been a struggle at all. Going strawless? That was my hairshirt.

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4 years ago

Legitimate question: If you carry these straws in a purse or tote, do you have concerns about them breaking? I have a few stainless steel straws, and while the glass straw seems intriguing, I am concerned about its ability to travel.

5 years ago

I’m so happy you found a help to your hairshirt. Hooray:)

Hatteras propeller
10 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing this great website.

personal injury
10 years ago

Thanks for the informative writing. Would mind updating some good tips about it. I still wait your next place. ;)

Nature Grrl
11 years ago

Is your to goware travel case as wide as the photo above? The link takes me to mostly narrow packs with the fork/spoon/knife/chopsticks all packed together. I’d be concerned the straw might break crammed into those, but there are many nice colors from which to choose. There’s one case shown on sale that appears closer to your design but I can’t tell from the picture whether there’s room for a straw. (I’m not a fan of the color mix either, so won’t spend the extra money buying something hoping it fits.)

Beth Terry
11 years ago
Reply to  Nature Grrl

Hi, Nature Grrl. Since this post was written, To-Go Ware has developed some new designs that are different from the one I got originally (shown above.) If you can’t find one like that, you can find someone on who makes them. Check out this search:

12 years ago

You can also find some awesome glass straws on Etsy! Check it out!

15 years ago

thx for the links!

also, on the To-Go Ware, you don’t have to order them online and have them shipped, as they are sold at numerous retailers and they have a store-locater on their site, so i’m also going to go support a local retailer to get mine.

15 years ago

Thanks for the tip! I just started looking for a better replacement for my reusable plastic smoothie cup, and glass straws sound like a perfect way for me to continue to enjoy smoothies (and possibly bubble tea) without the plastic garbage.


Lisa Sharp
15 years ago

This was an awesome thing to find this morning. It’s so fun to find your name on this blog. Though my husband doesn’t understand and gave me a weird look when I said “Beth Terry talked about me today on her blog.” lol

Anyway this has been a hard week for me as I have been at the hospital watching my best friend’s mom die from a 8 year battle of breast cancer so it was nice to have a little pick me up this morning. Thanks Beth for giving me credit. The funny thing is I haven’t gotten these yet even lol. They are on my “green wish list.”

15 years ago

If you put the glass straws in the siverware basket of your dishwasher each time you run it they will come clean without even using the brushes. Having the brushes for extra use once in a while is neat, but I haven’t had to use them yet! Love the straws — and I better as David is my son!

15 years ago

Those look lovely!

15 years ago

It’s interesting how different this whole plastic-free issue is for each person.

Drinking without a straw–one of the easiest changes I’ve made.

Giving up slices of prepackaged cake from Whole Foods–a task of herculean proportions for me.

Although, there is a different reason why I miss straws: avoiding teeth discoloration from tea or the occasional Coke. Each time the drink touches my teeth, I cringe a little bit.

Condo Blues
15 years ago

The wide glass straws look like they’d work much better for smoothies and shakes than the traditional and enviro-trashy plastic straw.

15 years ago

awww – those are awesome! we have some stainless steel drinking straws that we use at home, but i’m going to let my friends know about these glass ones, too! thanks, Beth! :D

15 years ago

I, like hvnlyrn, have also spent the past week or so attempting to read from the beginning of your blog to present :) And I’ve learned a lot of enjoyed reading all your posts and checking out the many various website you have linked to on your blog. I even added you on facebook the other night and am hoping to add your twitters as well :) Keep up the great work and education :)

Thanks! Mel

15 years ago

Damnit. I forgot I was compacting until I read Katy’s comment above. Ha! Oh well…I rushed over to the website and bought one, um, before I even finished reading your whole post. A totally justified purchase in my opinion.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
15 years ago

This is so cool!

However, I am part of The Compact, (buy nothing new) so my solution is going have to be a straw-free lifestyle.

This is a good reminder to simply ask for no straw though.


-Katy Wolk-Stanley
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

15 years ago

Hi Beth-

You are so cute! I really admire your persistence! The straws look so classy! :)

15 years ago

I have spent the last several days reading your entire blog! It has been highly entertaining, and informative. I applaud you on your efforts, and thank you for opening my eyes to my own disposable lifestyle. I want to change that attitude, and will be beginning my own journey to becoming more attentive to what products I’m using, and how I can decrease my dependence on plastic.
I currently live in Europe, and while I thought I was doing well in being forced to recycle, you have shown me that it’s simply not enough. I have placed an order for those cool glass straws, and am working with To-Go Ware and Kleen Kanteen to see if they ship to where I live, and began no ‘pooing. I’m doing baby steps, but it’s stepping in the right direction.
Thanks again for being you, and telling the world about it!

Beth Terry
15 years ago

Frinking, Robj98168? What are you frinking? Oh, right. You don’t frink anymore. What are you smoking?


15 years ago

If you are having a good time frinking cold drinks with a glass straw, screw anyone who would criticize you. Drink on Beth, drink on!That to-go war site is way cool!