Plastic straws could be banned – so what are the cheapest alternatives?

Disposable plastic straws could soon be banned in England in an effort to try to cut down on the amount of plastic we throw away. Yet for all sorts of reasons, many of us like (and even need) to use some form of straw - whether due to disability or simply wanting to protect our teeth.

Unfortunately, if you want to use a straw without it being plastic, you’re going to have to fork out extra. Given disposable plastic straws currently sell for less than a penny each (eg, we found 250 for £1 at Poundland), that’s pretty much unavoidable. But we’ve rounded up some of the cheapest alternatives, from disposable paper straws to reusable metal ones.

What are reusable straws?

Reusable straws can be washed and used again and again, instead of being thrown away. They can be made from all sorts of materials, including metal, bamboo and glass. You can also buy reusable plastic straws, which are more durable than disposable ones.

As well as price, the big difference with reusable straws is the way they look and feel - some straw users may prefer the feel of a metal straw over bamboo, for example.

Predictably, many of these products can be found cheapest online if you shop at Amazon. But we've also included the cheapest in-store prices at the big high-street and supermarket chains where possible - useful if you don't want to wait for delivery.

Cheapest disposable paper straws

Although these are only designed to be used once, biodegradable paper straws are more eco-friendly than plastic ones. They're one of the cheapest alternatives when you look at cost per straw, though if you're a regular straw user, you might want to 'invest' in something longer-lasting. Here's the cheapest we found:

  • 25 paper straws - 86p at Amazon* (4p each)
  • 25 paper straws - £2 at Morrisons* (8p each)
  • 30 paper straws - £2.50 at Waitrose* (8p each)
  • 150 paper straws - £4.99 at Lakeland* (3p each)

Cheapest metal straws

Made from 'food-grade' stainless steel (ie, of a quality suitable for use alongside food), these straws can be washed and reused - you can even put them in the dishwasher. Although you can't adjust the angle while you're drinking, you can buy bent and straight versions. Here's the cheapest we found:

  • Six metal straws (plus two cleaning brushes) - £2.30 at Amazon* (38p each)
  • Six metal straws - £5.99 at Lakeland* (£1 each)

Cheapest bamboo straws

Bamboo straws are organic, biodegradable and eco-friendly as bamboo is considered a sustainable material. They can be washed and reused again and again. Here's the cheapest we found:

  • Two bamboo straws - £2.20 at Amazon* (£1.10 each)

Cheapest glass straws

Glass straws may sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but they're designed to be durable and shatterproof. They're also pricier than other reusable options. Here's the cheapest we found:

  • 11 glass straws - £8.99 at Amazon* (82p each)
  • One glass straw - 91p at Amazon* (91p each)

Cheapest reusable plastic straws

OK, so these are still plastic, but they're designed to be sturdy enough to be washed and re-used. If you clean and look after these straws properly, there's no reason they shouldn't last for years. Here's the cheapest we found:

  • 10 reusable plastic straws - £1.58 at Amazon* (16p each)
  • 10 curly reusable plastic straws - £2.20 at Amazon* (22p each)
  • Six reusable plastic straws - £2 at Waitrose* (33p each)
  • Three curly reusable plastic straws - £1.80 at Morrisons* (60p each)

For more tips on reducing your plastic waste (and saving money), see MSE Kelvin's blog 13 ways to use less plastic AND save cash.