Plastic single-use straws are one of the biggest problems the environment has to face, because they can’t be recycled. They end up in landfill or polluting the world’s oceans instead, which is why some cities and restaurants are banning them. Even Queen Elizabeth II has banned their use in her residences.
What can we do ourselves to play our part in helping the environment? We can swap to paper or steel straws at home, and we can also find other ways to use up our old straws – check out these 21 ideas for giving your plastic straws a new purpose.
1. Flower Holders
If you have droopy flowers that won’t stand upright, put the stem into a clear plastic straw. You can also lengthen any short stems this way.
2. Electrical Cord Labels
To label your electrical cords, simply snip a straw lengthwise, then cut into sections. Label them and slip them over the appropriate cord. This will stop you unplugging the stereo when you meant to unplug the TV instead.
3. Necklace Holders
If you’re tired of getting your necklaces tangled up while travelling or while they’re in your jewellery box, thread them through a straw. This will stop you spending ages untangling them.
4. Bubble Wand
You don’t need to buy bubble mix and a wand – simply mix up some dish soap and a little water in a bowl, and dip one end of a straw into the solution. Blow through it and you have bubbles!
5. DIY Bubble Blower
You can also insert a straw into a plastic cup to make a bubble blower. Find out how at http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/
6. Picture Frame
Kids will love crafting this cute picture frame with plastic straws. Simply get them to glue colorful straws to a cheap wooden craft frame.
7. Make a Vase
Get some old straws and glue them around a can to create a colorful vase. Find out how at http://www.desireehartsock.com/
8. Vacuum Sealer
No need to buy a vacuum sealer for your plastic bags when you can use a straw to do the same job. Put your food in a sandwich bag and seal it, then open it a tiny amount and insert one end of a straw. Suck all the air out, then remove the straw and quickly reseal the opening.
9. Travel Light with Your Toiletries
Buying travel-sized toiletries can work out very expensive, so why not use straws instead? Cut a straw into 4-inch sections, and then add your toothpaste, shampoo etc while pinching one end shut with pliers. Use a lighter to seal one end of the straw, and then the other one. Label with a marker and you’re set for travelling light.
10. Pen Holder
Tape a straw onto the spine of a notebook, and you have your own pen holder.
11. Hulling Strawberries
Hulling strawberries can be time consuming and fiddly, so why not try using a straw instead? Insert a plastic straw at the bottom of the strawberry and gently push it through towards the leaves. The leaves and stalk should come off easily and cleanly. Doing it this way means you save more of the fruit than if you cut the top off it.
12. Interactive Chore Chart
Print out a large chore chart, put some straws over strings and pin them up corresponding to each chore. Print ‘Start’ and ‘Finish’ at each end of the string, and it will allow your kids to slide each straw from start to finish when they complete a chore.
13. A Unique Doormat
You can create a working doormat with plastic straws – just follow the instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Doormat-Made-Out-Of-Straw
14. Vacuum Straw Brush
Now you will be able to create a vacuum attachment that you can use to clean delicate equipment like your computer keyboard. All you need are straws, duct tape and a bit of gauze or nylon stocking. Follow the full instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Vacuum-Straw-Brush
15. Paint Blower
Place watercolor or poster paint into cups, then cut some straws in half. Using an eyedropper, drop paint onto heavy paper and blow it around using the straw to create interesting patterns.
16. Paint Brush Drying Rack
You can create a handy drying rack for your paintbrushes using plastic straws. Find the instructions here: www.essortment.com/unique-uses-plastic-straws-40549.html
17. Jell-O Worms
These realistic-looking Jell-O earthworms will go down a storm at a child’s Halloween party! Follow the instructions at http://www.onelittleproject.com/how-to-make-jello-worms/
18. Hair Curlers
Instead of using a curling iron, which can damage your hair, learn how to use plastic straws for amazing curls here: http://www.wikihow.com/Curl-Your-Hair-With-Straws
19. Bag Clips
To seal a half-eaten bag of chips, just use a straw. Cut a straw lengthwise, then cut the end so it’s the same width as the bag. Slide it over the open top of the bag. Roll the top of the bag several times, then slide a second straw clip over to secure.
20. Unclog Ketchup Bottles
Straws to the rescue! Push the straw all the way into the bottle until it hits the end. Leave it inserted and carefully give the ketchup bottle a shake – it should now come out easily.
21. Bespoke Bike Spokes
Cut colorful straws lengthwise and wrap them around bicycle spokes to make a style statement!