When Pasta Straws Save the Oceans But Pose a Potential Risk for People

500 million plastic straws are being used in the U.S. every day. That equates to an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day. ¹ While individual straws are relatively small, the amount of waste they create really adds up. There have already been some promising alternatives to plastic straws but a new option seems to be the ultimate solution: Pasta straws. They are ecofriendly, easy to produce and affordable for everyone. The only problem: They can become dangerous for anyone with celiac disease.

It is not a secret that plastic waste leads to a long-term pollution of land and oceans. In the U.S., straws used every day are enough to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times. But plastic waste is not confined to the U.S. It is a worldwide problem that needs to be solved. For this reason, attempts are being made to find ways to reduce the use of plastic straws. 

Reducing plastic waste by finding alternatives

In more and more cities around the world, restaurants are starting to banish the use of plastic straws from their establishments. The most commonly used alternatives are paper straws. These are more environmentally friendly but their fluid resistance is not long lasting which is why they tend to get a little soggy after a while.

Reducing plastic waste by finding alternatives

This won’t happen with reusable glass straws but as they are fragile and more expensive than paper straws, they won’t be a solution for the masses.

A more expensive option is collapsible, reusable straws that can be folded into a case which is small enough to fit on a keychain. These are a good option for people who decide to ban plastic straws from their everyday life but they are not an alternative for restaurants. For this reason, pasta straws are a promising alternative.

Pasta: An ecofriendly solution

It is hard to tell where pasta straws came from but when you do a little bit of research, you will find numerous stories about a variety of restaurants across the world that have started using pasta straws instead of plastic straws. A pasta straw is a spaghetti shaped uncooked noodle with a hole through the middle. They have only two ingredients: water and wheat. While a large number of people like pasta, there are also many who suffer from celiac disease and can’t consume products which contain gluten without becoming ill. Those people need to make sure that they only consume products that are labelled as “gluten free”.

In many cases pasta straws don’t meet gluten free requirements.

In many cases pasta straws don’t meet gluten free requirements. This could lead to a problem – particularly in restaurants. When ordering a drink, most celiac people do not necessarily think to tell the waiter that they have celiac disease because they know about the ingredients of their drink. The big surprise comes when the drink arrives at the table and they notice the pasta straw. Even small amounts of gluten can cause serious consequences – they would not be able to consume the drink when the pasta straw has already been placed in the drink.

Although replacing plastic straws with pasta straws is a good way to reduce plastic waste, restaurants will need to keep in mind that their choice could harm people. That is why it is necessary to inform customers that pasta straws are being used before they order a drink. An alternative would be to serve the straw separately from the drink. Then it would be up to the customer to use the straw or not.

So far there are only a few manufacturers who are focusing on the production of pasta straws. It is estimated that in the U.S. approximately 1 in 100 people have celiac disease. Therefore, it is necessary to work on a gluten free pasta straw. Pasta straws will only become a good working alternative to plastic straws when everyone can use them.

References:
¹ Environmental Impact of Plastic Straws
https://get-green-now.com/environmental-impact-plastic-straws/
Why Pasta Straws Could Replace Plastic
https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/6282028/plastic-straws-replaced-pasta/
The Amazing Pasta Straw
https://www.pastastraws.org/