Going 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.
Not 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.
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.
GlassDharma 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.