Straw poll

When I’m trying to work out what to do with stuff I no longer want there are lots of options – donations to charity, repurposing, freecycle, sale and (as we’ve discussed recently) eventually recycling. Some things, however, leave me wondering…

With the kitchen cupboard doors sorted out, I have been left with a small heap of stuff that needs to be dealt with. There’s a box for charity donations, I need to organise a storage solution for the plastic bags, there are a couple of tins that I’m dithering whether to keep or not, and then there’s the pot of plastic straws.

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my dilemma

Yes, I have a pot of plastic bendy straws. They are very old and have resided in the back of a cupboard for a couple of decades. I forget exactly why I bought them in the first place, but it may have been for when my dad visited – he was severely physically disabled and using a straw for drinking made his life much easier sometimes and he certainly used a few. Maybe I bought them for a party, or for the nieces and nephew. Anyway, whatever the reason, I now have a bundle of plastic drinking straws that social media has screamed at me are not recyclable and, indeed, The Guardian clearly states here that straws can’t be recycled.

My eldest niece is 30, my father passed away several years ago and Mr Snail and I have metal straws through which to enjoy an occasional stormy harbour, so I can’t see a use for them. A quick internet search revealed a lot of lampshades made from plastic straws as well as a London Underground map and various ‘sculptures’, but none of these ‘uses’ appeals to me. However, a bit more of a search suggests that straws can be recycled, that they tend to be made of one of two types of plastic and that the problem arises, at least in part, from determining which one. Obviously, my unused straws are clean, so there is no contamination, and I am sorely tempted to pop them in the recycling and let our very efficient, local recycling company do the rest.

But before I do, I want to hear your ideas . Can you think of something creative to do with them that won’t mean they eventually end up floating around the oceans or in landfill? I’m not inspired, but perhaps you are…

 

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21 Comments

  1. That’s a tough one. Aside for using them as some sort of art project—gluing them onto a canvas or board in a creative way for an abstract picture—can’t think of anything. Good luck!

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  2. Hang onto them please. I use them in soft toy making and am dreading the day I run out and can’t find them anymore. One day you will want to make a soft toy for someone and need to add a bit of structure. You will use them, I am sure.

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  3. RAY Ceredigion in Aberaeron do Recycled Arts & Crafts. Maybe they could use them? Failing that, string them up as a bird scarer in the garden (assuming you have something you want to scare the birds off) or write on them in permanent marker and use as coloured planting tags for seed sowing.

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  4. Donate them to your local elementary school. Teachers use them for art, science and stem and it will save a teacher from having to buy them with their own money and they will be super grateful:)

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    • It so saddens me that teachers have to buy such materials themselves… although I did it myself when I taught at the local university. I’m hoping that someone will snap them up 🙂

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      • Yup it’s sad how much of our own money we spend just to make school interesting and fun for the children.

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  5. Maybe offer them on Freegle or similar? I understand that some people with disabilities find straws very useful (and in some cases necessary).
    As they already exist, surely the best thing is that they are used in the best way possible before finally being discarded?
    I’m sure all of us have stuff that we bought or acquired ages ago before we fully understood the implications.
    As ever, a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. Thank you!

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    • My dad (who was a tetraplegic) found such straws very useful and we tended to have them around for when he needed them… I may out a call out on Facebook if no one here wants them (although I’m hopeful Cathy will be able to make use of them).

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  6. Looks like you already have all the answers I would have passed on. So many inventive ideas here. I have most of my original straws and many are too narrow for me to use so I’m looking for ways to pass them on too. Thanks for posting this as it’s helping me too. I’m so sorry your father had such a struggle. Mine is minimal comparatively. I’ve tried the steel, silicone and paper straws. They don’t work for me so I always carry my own plastic straws. I wash and reuse them so I’ll never need to buy anymore. I am so grateful to have them but see no point in wastefulness. Good luck with finding their new home. I look forward to hearing where they are going.

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  7. We got a straw cleaner with our bamboo straws, so the plastic straws my daughter has collected on her travels get used again and again and again. She now wants a glass straw, so looks like we have the same dilemma as you. Leeds does have an incinerator which provides power for houses, so I don’t feel so bad about them going in the ‘landfill’ bin.

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  8. I was going to say donate them to a school or library for craft projects, but someone beat me to it!

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  9. I have used up my straws by covering things with them…let me explain. We live in a rental so the hooks we put over the top of doors to hand our coats on etc would rub the paint off the door frames if it were not for the fact I have slit a couple of straws up the length of them and placed the straw over the hook, to protect the paint. I hung something with a chain and I threaded the chain through a straw to protect the paint work.
    I have a large pot containing a fig tree and have cords running from the pot into the tray underneath to allow water to soak upwards and to be used by the fig. I used straw around the cord to prevent it being cut or damaged by the edge of the pot when I threaded the cord through the hole…hope this makes sense…
    A piece of straw slit length wise and put onto a cord as identification on which cord belongs to say the printer or the computer etc… You can write on the straw if you wish…

    I have found the old unused straws very useful under these circumstances.

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  10. Patricia Collins

     /  July 5, 2019

    Lots of patterns out there for knitted flowers that use straws with knitted green covers as stems. But then what to do with the flowers once they are past it and how much time do you have to knit flowers?

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  11. If they are postable I will gladly use them at school – we attach straws to balloons to make rockets, attach them to plastic gloves to make bagpipes – and no doubt other things in the future. Our technician is worried that we won’t be able to buy plastic straws soon..

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