Fast food chains give out more than 50 million straws per year with their meals, contributing greatly to a landfill full of straws. According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic straws are also one of the top 10 most picked-up items on the beach. To make matters worse, straws are simply too small for traditional single-stream recycling centers because they get stuck in the many moving parts of the large machines that sort the recycling and clog the mechanisms.
Of course you can also reuse disposable straws in INNUMERABLE arts and crafts projects…but today I’m focusing on their PRACTICAL uses. From tangle-free jewelry storage to hulling strawberries, straws are good for so much more than just sipping!
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Pen/Pencil or Stylus Holder
You can tape a straw to the side of a notebook, to always have a makeshift pencil or pen holder with you. You could also update the idea by taping a straw to your tablet cover to hold a stylus.
You can hull strawberries (i.e., remove the white center and green leaves) easily by gently inserting a regular drinking straw into the fruit. Start at the pointy end and move the straw straight up. This technique leaves the strawberries looking nice and pretty, especially if you’re using them in a recipe.
Unclog A Stubborn Ketchup Bottle
Here’s a foolproof way to get your stuck sauce on the move again without risking a mess. You can easily unclog the ketchup by inserting a straw into your bottle of ketchup until it reaches the bottom, then removing it. The straw’s shape will break up the clog and insert air into the sauce so it will start flowing.
Getting as much air as possible out of a plastic bag helps to keep the food inside it fresher because it won’t oxidize as rapidly. No need to run out and buy a vacuum sealer. All you need is a zipper-top plastic bag, a straw, and a good pair of lungs.
First, put your food in the plastic bag and then insert the straw. Seal the zipper around the straw, then suck out as much air as you can. Slip the straw out quickly and zip the bag completely closed.
Alternatively, you can also use zippered plastic bags when shipping items that need a little cushioning. Just stick a drinking straw into the bag, zip it up, then inflate. When it’s as big as you want it, quickly slide out the straw and seal the bag completely. Instant air cushion packaging.
Use straws to prevent your jewelry from becoming tangled. Thread a chain through a drinking straw and then clasp it shut. This method works well in a drawer or a suitcase – it’s a great way to prevent tangles while traveling! You can also prevent a tangle from happening on the string of a child’s pull toy. Just slip a straw over the string and knot the end.
Turn a straw into a makeshift straight pin or bobby pin holder, also great for traveling. Bend one end of the straw and secure it shut with a strip of tape. Place your pins into the other end of the straw and seal that end shut with tape, too.
Give Flowers A Boost
You can improve the overall aesthetics of a bouquet of flowers by sticking too-short stems into plastic straws, trimming the straw to get the desired height, and inserting them into the vase. Just make sure that when you fill the vase with water, that you fill the vase high enough for the water to reach the stems.
Make tiny single-stem vases out of drinking straws. Lay them flat or prop them up vertically, for an easy way to add a little bit of green to your work or living area. A drinking straw can also be an effective way to keep a single flower hydrated in transit.
Make Easy-To-Carry Seasoning Holders
Straws provide an easy way to take along a small amount of your favorite seasonings. Fold one end over and tape it shut, fill it and fold and tape the other end. If moisture is a concern, use a plastic straw.
Single-Use Toiletry Dispensers
It’s a pain to carry around an entire container of lotion, conditioner, or sunscreen in your purse or backpack. No worries…you can use a regular cigarette lighter to convert drinking straws into containers that carry just enough product for a single use. If you are traveling for a short period of time, you can use straws to make travel-sized toiletries. Be sure to label what’s in each one to avoid any confusion. You can also use the same technique to make your own DIY ointment packets or condiment packets for travel or camping. For detailed instructions go to BrianGreen.net.
Make A “Fire Straw”
For a simple & cheap fire starter make your own “Fire Straws.” Vaseline-saturated cotton balls are stuffed inside a plastic straw making a compact, waterproof, and effective little fire starter. For detailed instructions go to SurvivalSherpa.com.
I don’t have a cat, but apparently they LOVE straws! I’ve read about people who buy boxes of straws just for their cats, and apparently, you should never leave a drink with a straw in it unattended with a cat around. :-)
Make Plants Water Themselves
Turn a wine bottle, cork, and drinking straw into a device that waters your plants while you’re away. It’ll help keep water flow to a minimum so you don’t drown your plant. For step-by-step instructions go to OneClassyMotha.com.
A DIY Eyedropper
Create your own eyedropper with this clever trick! Insert a plastic straw into the liquid and cover the other end of the straw with your finger (creating a vacuum.) The liquid will stay in place until you are ready to release your finger. Just remember to do this with a clean, sanitized straw.
If you are driving and have coffee in your hand, fold a straw in half and stuff the folded end into the opening on the lid of the cup. The coffee won’t spill when taking sharp turns. Courtesy Reddit.
Remove Cork Floaters in Wine
The next time you have a cork break up while you’re trying to open a bottle of wine, use a drinking straw to get the broken pieces out. Just place the straw over a piece of cork, cover the other end of the straw with your finger to create a vacuum, and lift the cork bit right out. Repeat as needed.
If you’re super organized (and crafty!) you could make a kids chore chart and cut up straws to use as “sliders.” When the chore is finished, they ‘slide’ it to the DONE position. So clever! For detailed instructions go to MommySavers.com.
Make Croquet Wickets Easier To See
Sometimes while playing croquet, the wickets can be hard to see. Make them more visible by running them through a straw before inserting them into the ground. Now you will be able to take aim better because you can see the croquet wickets easier.
DIY Jello Worms
Make your own disgusting-looking jello worms with a bundle of plastic straws. Just pour hot gelatin into straws, allow to cool, then squeeeeeeeze out your worms!! Fun for the whole family. :-) For detailed instructions go to HoosierHomemade.com.
Artist Paintbrush Drying Rack
Straws provide a convenient way to store cleaned, drying paintbrushes. All you need are 2 drinking straws, a 1 or 2 pound coffee can, and duct tape. For detailed instructions go to essortment.com.
Using drinking straws to create beautiful, beachy waves. Start with slightly damp hair, grab sections and wind them around a straw away from your face. Use a bobby pin to secure the end of the hair to the straw. Repeat until all your hair is curled around a straw. Blow dry your hair on cool or low heat to set the curls before removing the straws. For step-by-step directions go to WikiHow.com.
Caulk may be easy to apply, but it’s not always easy to make it look good. All you need to tame messy caulk into a smooth line is a straw. Gently run the tip of the straw along the caulk line while the caulk is still wet. You can also tape a small length of drinking straw to the nozzle of a caulking gun to get caulk into tight corners.