The History Of Drinking Straws And How They've Changed Over The Years | Kidadl

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The History Of Drinking Straws And How They've Changed Over The Years

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Straws have been used for a very long time by humans.

The evolution of drinking straws has been quite interesting. Each phase of the brief history of the drinking straw has added something new to the concept of straws in all.

Humans have used straws to drink various kinds of beverages for a long time. People have also been quite creative with the shape and color of the straws. Even the materials used to make the straws have changed many times in the past.

Generally, straws are broadly categorized as plastic straws and paper straws as they are the two most popular types of straws. Some of the other different kinds of straws would be bendy straws, natural straws, crazy straws, and rye straws.

The bendy straw is a type of plastic straw that can be bent at an angle. Natural straw is made out of wheat stalks, while rye straw is made out of ryegrass. The Crazy straws, which are also spelled 'Krazy straws' (the name of a straw manufacturer), are truly crazy shaped. There are loops and turns that look oh-so-cool, and you can also get a crazy straw glass too!

With such interesting features, a straw is genuinely fascinating, and its evolution is more so. Read on to find out more about the past and present of straw.

A History Of Paper Straws

Straws have been present on earth for a long time. Although paper straws were invented sometime in the 19th century, straws existed before that too. Below you will find a brief history of the evolution of straws.

The very first recorded invention and use of straws in the world were during ancient civilization. A straw was made out of wood, or sometimes out of gold. This straw was invented by the Mesopotamians, who used it to drink a form of beer popular in those times.

Then, in the 1600s, something called the bombilla tea-filtering straw was invented. These straws were used to filter the tea leaves out of the drink. This bombilla straw was usually made from materials such as bronze, or even silver and gold.

In the early 1880s, a drinking straw was created out of grains such as wheat and rye. Ryegrass and wheat stalks were used to make rye grass straws. However, these rye grass straws did not last for long as they became soggy after some use.

Finally, in 1880, Marvin Stone, an American inventor, designed the paper straw for the first time. Stone is known as the godfather of the modern paper straw in the world. Stone filed for a patent for paper straws in 1880. Stone developed the idea of paper straws because he wanted them to be beneficial for both businesses and consumers.

The paper straws were created from Manilla hemp, which is native to the Philippines. A paper straw was made by wrapping a piece of paper that was paraffin-coated around a pencil. The paper was then glued together before the pencil was removed.

Paper straws gained popularity in the early 20th century as they were advertised as a healthy and convenient option. People also used them a lot, as they didn't want to make any direct contact with the glass their drink was in. However, paper straws were forgotten when the invention of plastic straws took place.

When did straws turn from plastic to paper? 

If a timeline were to be created, then it would be paper straw to plastic straw to paper straw again. It is true that plastic straws were invented after paper straws. Then what is the reason that people have fallen back to using paper straws instead of plastic straws?

Plastic is a non-biodegradable entity. Plastic is being used today to make a lot of consumer goods that people use in their daily lives. The popularity of plastic products has increased exponentially in the past century. Plastic straws also gained popularity because of the growing number of fast-food outlets that required disposable cutlery, including plastic straws. However, plastic waste doesn't degrade easily and remains on earth for a very long time.

The situation of plastic waste in the world has only worsened more in recent years. It had been going downhill for a long time, but the scale of the impact has recently been realized. Although plastic straws are more durable, they are not healthy.

Researchers have found that plastic-based dental floss can also affect the health of a human being.

Furthermore, most of the plastic waste is dumped into bodies of water, such as seas and oceans. This disrupts and causes harm to marine life. The plastic drinking straw has been responsible for damage to the bodies of many aquatic creatures, especially turtles.

The shift from plastic straws to paper straws happened when people started to realize the hazardous nature of plastic straw. As awareness is being spread about the disadvantages of using plastic, more and more companies are now trying to make consumer goods from alternative materials.

The drinking straws can also be called drinking tubes.

The Present And Future Of Paper Straws

A paper straw should be aptly labeled as a modern drinking straw because of its environment-friendly features. It can also be considered a humble straw as the material used is not harmful and the design is quite simple too.

More and more people all around the world are starting to realize the benefits of using paper straws over plastic straws. As the world strives to become greener and people are starting to become more environmentally conscious, paper straws contribute to making the planet a better, greener, and cleaner place to live on.

The paper straws can also be given slightly different shapes now. Moreover, they are tasteless, smooth, and odorless. The one disadvantage of paper straws is their durability. However, efforts are being made to increase the durability of these straws too. One way to do it is to make use of certain biodegradable papers, which take longer to dissolve in a liquid. This makes paper straws not only environment-friendly but also consumer-friendly.

Plastic Straw Bans And Proposals

As people all over the earth are becoming more aware of the environmental problems, efforts both small and big are being carried out in order to restore the environment and reduce the damage being caused. Plastics are known to be major contributors to environmental damage and pollution.

In the last few years, the governments of many countries and individual states have passed laws to ban plastic straws. The bans and proposals advocate against the use of plastic straws. There are consequences if any establishment manufactures or utilizes plastic straws in cities or states where they are banned. The company could be legally fined or even shut down in worst-case scenarios.

While some countries and states are still in the process of developing and enforcing these bans and proposals, others have already done so. Using or making plastic straws is considered an illegal activity in the states where the ban has already been placed.

Instead, the restaurants are asked to use alternatives to plastic that are more environmentally friendly. This is still an ongoing effort, and individual contributions are equally important to reduce the pollution and damage caused by plastic.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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