Drinking straws are made of a plastic that is not easily recyclable. Most are made of #5 plastics which are the same sturdy plastics used for making yogurt containers ~ if your town collects yogurt containers, then they should collect straws as well. Should of course, doesn’t mean they will. Whenever I’ve tossed straws in the curbside bin, they are usually left behind.
Most straws are sturdy enough that they can be rinsed out, air dried and then reused. However, because they can’t be sterilized, it’s really not wise to let someone else drink from them. In our family, the kids mark their straws with different colored markers to keep “their” straws separate. To store them, we use a plastic root beer float cup scavenged from a trip to A & W. The domed lid keeps the straws upright and prevents the cup from tipping over.
But aside from drinking with them, straws really have a lot of craft uses. Read on to discover the many amazing uses for a drinking straw:
A favorite activity for younger kids in making “straw art”. This is done by dropping blobs of paint on a sheet of finger paint paper, and blowing the paint around with the straw to create a spatter design. Mixing up artist’s paints or other light weight solutions? A non-flex straw can do double duty as a stir stick.
Colorful straws can be cut into 1/2 inch sections to create beads. Mix them up with macaroni for a beading project that ‘s easy enough for preschoolers.
Straws of similar size can be cut apart and uses for Science Fair bridge building projects.
Remember pea shooters? This old fashioned favorite uses a wide straw and a dried split pea. Set up a target range by lining up a bunch of recycled plastic cups on the fence posts.
For cooks, straws are helpful in recipes that call for small incremental quantities of liquid. In this application, the straw is used like those old glass pipettes from High School chemistry class. To use the straw as a pipette, simply drop it in a full glass of liquid, close your finger over the top and remove from the glass. Because you’ve created a seal, the liquid will not drop out of the straw until your finger has been removed. By moving the finger slightly, you can add liquid to your recipe just a drop at a time.
Make a bug catcher
One of my favorite uses for an old straw is to make a bug catcher out of a recycled soft drink cup and two straws, as illustrated in the photograph. By inhaling on the smaller straw, the air suction will pull a bug through the larger straw, and drop him into the cup for viewing. When it’s time to release the bug, simply pop off the lid and carefully drop him back into his habitat.