THE LAST STRAW

They may seem innocent enough, but plastic drinking straws are one of the most harmful items to enter the environment. And the problems stem from a couple key facts -- they're almost always only used once and they never biodegrade, taking lifetimes to actually break down. Typically, straws are made out of polypropelyne, a #5 plastic which is recyclable, but most people forget to toss them into the blue bin or don't bother altogether. According to Strawless Ocean, an environmental initiative dedicated to cleaning up our waterways , Americans alone use 500 million plastic straws every day! Worldwide, over 8 million tons of plastic straws end up in the ocean, harming marine life and poluting the water.

The most obvious way to do your part to help rid our water of the skinny plastic suckers is to completely quit them altogether. But if you like using straws, opt for the sustainable kind! From metal to glass, there a quite a few options available that are not only washable and reusable, but they look quite fancy, too (imagine a cocktail party with some of these cuties peeking out from the tops of high ball glasses). Most come with mini brushes to better clean the insides, and all are dishwasher safe, too.

Bamboo looks like wood, but is actually a type of grass with a quick lifecycle, making it one of the most renewable resources on Earth. This straw set from EarthEasy comes with a cleaning brush and are large enough to be used for shakes and smoothies. They'd also be a perfect cocktail accessory for an at-home tiki bar.

These vibrantly-hued aluminum straws are reminiscent of those vintage metal tumblers that grandma used to have. They are super durable and like the bamboo straws, they are wide enough for thicker drinks and they too come equipped with a cleaning brush. From Youkee. 

Add an artistic touch to your next cocktail party with these gorgeous blown-glass straws from Glass Dharma. They're crafted from bororsilicate glass -- the same sturdy material used to make oven-safe baking dishes -- and if one breaks or cracks, you can send it back to the company for free repairs or replacements. 

Your kids are going to love these fun silicon sippers from Softy Straws. They're made from BPA free, 100% food grade silicone, are rip-resistant, and because they are soft, they're suitable for children of all ages. A set of 4 comes with a little "squeegee" for thorough cleaning.