Why Switch to HAY! Straws?
With so many options out there for sustainable products, how do you know which ones are right for you? And how do they stack up against each other? We created this resource to outline the best reasons for using wheat straws, and how they’re different from paper straws.
HAY! Straws are compostable, so they won’t need to end up in a landfill.
What’s the most obvious difference between straws made of plastic and straws made of wheat stems? We think it’s pretty simple: the latter is natural, the former is not. Plastic, in its many forms, is made from petroleum—a nonrenewable resource that comes from fossil fuels. Wheat—a plant, of course—is a renewable resource that comes straight from Mother Earth, and she’s much more keen on taking it back when you’re done with it. Since HAY! Straws are purely wheat, they’ll biodegrade in the compost.
Straws that biodegrade cause less harm to the environment and wildlife.
If you spend any time on social media, we bet you’ve seen this viral video of an injured sea turtle posted a couple years ago (warning: it’s graphic!). Though fortunately the turtle survived, animal rescue workers pulled and tugged for several minutes to remove a foreign object from its nostril—a single-use plastic straw. The same kind as 500 million others like it that are used and discarded every day in the U.S. alone.
Plastics like that are here to stay for a long, long time. And every single one that ends up in our oceans and landfills is a potential harm to wildlife, and the overall health of the planet. When you opt for biodegradable products, you’re reducing the number of harmful plastics that end up in fragile ecosystems worldwide. Read more about the effects of plastic pollution on wildlife here.
Bioplastics sound great in theory, but the reality is that they’re largely misunderstood, and in many cases don’t break down any faster than regular plastic.
There’s a lot of general confusion about what exactly are bioplastics, and what happens to them after you discard them. Because of misleading marketing, many consumers make the (often incorrect) assumption that bioplastics are always biodegradable. But the term “bioplastic” only refers to what it’s made from, not how it will break down after it’s thrown away.
Bioplastics are made from “biomass”—often pulp that’s leftover from processing other products, like sugarcane. While bioplastics may come from plant-based material, the molecular structure can prevent them from breaking down any differently from regular plastic. Many bioplastic materials are recyclable, but not compostable.
Some kinds of bioplastics, called bio-polymers, do biodegrade, but only under very specific conditions—and not what’s created by your backyard compost bin. As a result, they must be composted in municipal facilities, and many areas don’t have them. If bioplastic products get rerouted to a recycling facility, there’s no technology to tell them apart from regular plastic, so they often get sent to the landfill anyway.
Paper straws are certainly a better choice than plastic, but wheat has a leg up in a few different ways: less processing, no sogginess, and bonus points for reducing air pollution!
Aren’t paper straws a more obvious choice for an alternative to plastic? Sure, if you like your straws nice and soggy. On the other hand, wheat stalks are designed by nature itself to support the plant and withstand the elements!
Beyond the stability of the material, wheat has a few other advantages over paper straws. For instance, what’s one of the necessary evils of paper production? Deforestation. Mature forests must be destroyed to harvest wood for the pulp needed to make paper, and it’s all heavily processed before there’s a final product. HAY! Straws use wheat stems that are the byproduct of wheat production, so no additional plants must be grown or harvested in order to make our straws. In some countries like China, the stem byproduct is disposed of by burning, which contributes to air pollution. By creating a market for this unwanted byproduct, we’re eliminating the need to burn it, and helping to cut back on air pollution!