The war on straws is well and truly underway. California and Seattle have moved to ban single-use plastic straws, and global companies including Starbucks and Disney plan to do away with the suckers by 2020. As anyone who saw *that* episode of Blue Planet will agree, efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our natural environment can only be a good thing, even if it makes drinking your extra-cream Frappuccino a little harder.
And with the demise of single-use plastic straws comes a growing market for reusable alternatives (dental health-conscious people still gotta drink orange juice, after all). But as MUNCHIES discovered recently, not all non-plastic straws are created equal—in fact, some are downright useless. Yes, we are talking to you, textural-nightmare-that-is-the-paper-straw.
A bicycle company in Boston, Massachusetts thinks it may have found a credible swap for the plastic straw. Last week, Firefly, which makes specialist racing bikes from titanium steel, tweeted about an iced beverage-inspired eureka moment. It wrote: “One particularly hot day as we were churning through iced drinks to stay cool, we decided to turn scrap tubing into titanium drinking straws.”
The scrap tubing, Firefly explained on its website, is a byproduct of internal cable-routing new bikes. Usually, it gets thrown away but the company realised that “with a little elbow grease,” it could turn the metal “into something useful that lives on to make the world a better place.” They fashioned the tubing into drinking straws of three different lengths: five-inch for tumblers, and eight- and ten-inch versions with a bend for longer glasses.
Firefly put their recycled straws on sale on their website, allowing customers to choose from a range of colours. As well as helping combat the millions of plastic straws sent to landfill every day, they noted, its scrap metal straws were “cool AF”—perhaps in reference to the insulating properties of titanium, or the fact that drinking your iced latte with a shiny metal tube looks a lot cooler than tacky striped plastic.
The straws seem to have been a hit. According to another tweet from Firefly, they sold out in less than 24 hours, using up seven and a half years’ worth of scrap metal.