Here’s why paper straws should be canceled. Check out Jezebel’s Cancel Tournament to see what ultimately got canceled.
There is a single nice thing that can be said of paper straws: They are not as evil as plastic straws. The rest of the things that can be said of paper straws are epically and emphatically bad: They go limp within seconds. They disintegrate on the lips. They irreparably twist and unravel. They turn to soggy mush. Some even come with an unavoidably cardboard-like taste, like you are not only imbibing but also actively participating in the straw’s compostable process. Straws have one job—to unobtrusively transport liquid to one’s mouth—and paper ones fail at it every time.
Let us be clear: This is not a defense of plastic straws, which have been appropriately canceled for getting stuck in cute sea turtle nostrils, polluting our oceans, and taking centuries to decompose. Banning plastic straws, as cities like San Francisco and Seattle have done, has been a good baby-step toward saving the planet, or at least destroying it less swiftly. (It’s also—BONUS!—enraged enough Trump supporters, eager to see government overreach wherever they look, that the president’s reactionary $20 branded plastic straws promptly sold out.)
But hatred of plastic straws does not translate into a love of the paper kind, as many of us unpleasantly discovered this summer while sipping icy concoctions through tubes of slackening wood pulp. Sources do say that some companies are working on improving the quality of paper straws, including by making them more durable and with an improved “lip feel” (hopefully, said improvements will forever obviate the use of the phrase “lip feel”). In the meantime, however, paper straws suck, figuratively as well as literally (though, once again, insufficiently and unpleasantly).
Preferable options include: Drinking a smoothie with a spoon or buying a reusable straw made of silicone, glass, or metal. Maybe 2020 will be the year we remember that you can simply sip from the lip of a cup.