Since setting out on this journey, I’ve become much more aware of the problems that come with plastic. Sure, I always kind of knew it wasn’t ideal and that it shouldn’t be heated up in the microwave, but I never fully understood the extent of its impact on human health, not to mention our environment, until I watched Bag It and A Plastic Ocean. Both must-see documentaries are major eye openers to the problems that come with plastic.
I’m still continuing to learn more and more about the subject and I will share more in greater detail down the road but until then what I have determined is this: they are not something I want in my life. Particularly in the products that come in contact with foods and beverages. Besides the single/short term use types of plastics that I’ve been steadily ridding from our home, I have also been working to change out the longer term plastic products being used in our kitchen (cooking utensils, mixing bowls, cups, etc). While I tend to adhere to the “use it up” mantra, stuff that comes in contact with food or drink has been getting serious reconsideration. For the most part this has just meant paring down on the plastic duplicates if I already have a glass or stainless alternative available. This past month though, I decided it was time to replace all the plastic cups that teenie had been drinking out of. I knew I wanted to change them out within the year but since these plastic cups were still usable, I was trying to hold out as to give the family a couple of tangible options with upcoming gift giving holidays (since her list otherwise is like experience, experience, experience, nothing, gift card to kids secondhand clothing store…). But after watching the above documentaries my concern over her exposure to the potential chemicals in these products grew stronger, particularly when I thought about how her cups would often sit outside in the sun or a hot car, and were frequently washed with hot water in the dishwasher. Each drink filled me with guilt…it was time to make a change.
I had been keeping an eye out for plastic free alternatives at thrift stores but some things can be harder to find used when you need it (and its not every day you stumble upon a used glass Lifefactory water bottle in great shape for $1.25). So, when I set out to replace teenie’s plastic drink ware, much of it was acquired new, though there were a couple secondhand wins.
My goal was to find options that would last and achieve a changeover that worked for our lifestyle with as few products as possible. I wanted something we could take on the go that didn’t leak and well as a couple of small (8 oz) stainless or glass cups. The plastic cups we had been using most often were the ones with the lid and the straw because they were the most convenient to put together and clean. While I considered trying to transition to just cups alone or with straws, I knew that often we took these cups on the road and a lid would be beneficial. The option crossed my mind of doing two water bottles since this would be the simplest option but sports caps gross me out and I didn’t think she was ready to man an open mouthed bottle while in the car.
After several days of research we ended up with the following (mostly) plastic free system.
Oh how I love these stainless steel cups by Housavvy, let me count the ways…
– Basically a mini Yeti (but not made by Yeti)
– Smooth lip rim means its just as easy to drink directly from as it is to drink from a straw.
– Lid and straw fit snugly so pretty minimal on the leak front (but wouldn’t categorize as leak proof)
– Slidable cover in lid to close off straw hole so can be taken on-the-go in an upright cooler situation
– Silicone straws (not plastic) have a cool angle at the base so it doesn’t get sucked stuck
The only plastic part of this cup is the lid but that isn’t coming in contact with whatever liquid it contains so not concerning. The only thing I’m not crazy about with the lid of this cup is the sliding part for the lid. It has only a tiny hole to drain fluid from it so cleaning it out is a little tricky. I’m a little skeptical about this part collecting bacteria, growing mold or generally getting funky but I feel a lot better about being able to see this area (vs with a sports cap) and liquid does not really come in direct contact with this space. I’ll be keeping an eye on that but overall very happy with this swap!
I knew I wanted at least one water bottle for its leak proof feature. All it came down to was deciding between the 9 oz glass bottle by Lifefactory, the 12 oz stainless insulated Hydroflask, or the Kid’s Kleen Kanteen classic vs insulated. Having Hydroflask and Lifefactory bottles myself, both of these brands were on my radar. For some reason I missed the 12 ounce version in a regular sized mouth, instead only seeing a wide mouth with a flip top which would not have been leak proof and was concerned the Life Factory bottle might be too heavy for her to handle on her own. Plus, while covered in silicone, I don’t know if it could withstand the frequent dropping I foresaw. The weight issue was what led me to choose the classic over the insulated version of the Kleen Kanteen. And of course my premonition came true – this bottle being dropped at least 5 times within the first couple of hours of venturing out. It came with a sports cap but since that gives me the heebie jeebies I purchased a separate screw on loop cap to use instead. So far its been great!
The glass mason jars were a eureka moment that came along after I hit the confirm purchase button on the cups and water bottle. I had seen them in a thrift store but left them behind as they weren’t my intention for being there that day. Then it hit me how they would make the perfect child sized drinking cup while being more durable than a regular drinking glass, so I went back the next day and bought them. The added bonus?! There is a lid so this cup could go anywhere, spill free. These jars have been my go to for taking milk out on the go. I can store them in my little bottle bag turned travel cooler without having to worry about spillage.
Both the water bottle and the mason jars have the option to be drank from directly or with a straw. Around the time I started thinking about making these flips, I had been contacted by the folks over at Softy Straws about trying out their product! Let me tell you this couldn’t have come at a better time. While trying to figure out her whole new drinking system, I had thought about getting a couple stainless straws for everyone to use. Thing is, I was worried about the potential hazard of using a stainless straw with a toddler not to mention the comments I had read about people chipping their teeth. Yikes! While I’m not necessarily sure if that last part happens all that frequently, the fact of the matter is I rarely use straws but my toddler uses them often. Having something that is safe for her is a win for everyone. Enter the silicone straw! At first I wasn’t sure how well they would do, wondering if they would “collapse under pressure” (hardy har har). What I did know is that it was totally worth a try because if they worked then they’d be the perfect addition to a low waste lifestyle!!
Right out of the gate Softy Straws was after my heart as their product arrived to me completely plastic free!! This colorful set of 100% silicone straws and cleaning squeegee came packaged in a beautifully simple cardboard box. Not only do they care about reducing single-use straw waste, they care about reducing plastic waste all around. I instantly loved the pretty colors (teenie did too) and the squeegee made cleaning the inside totally easy. One of the first things I noticed upon removing them from the box was that they were a lot firmer than I had anticipated! They weren’t flimsy or cheap but instead felt durable.
So how did they hold up?? Fantastically!! They were the final piece in our plastic minimizing puzzle. So not only do I not have to worry about teenie poking herself in the eye or being impaled with a hard straw but there is another benefit to their flexibility…they bend! I have a couple plastic reusable straws that in the past I’d put in a cup for teenie to use if her cups were all dirty (having multiple cups caused me to be lazy about cleaning them) but she always had trouble with the length. But with a silicone straw this is not an issue, making them something the whole family can easily use!
They even worked great with smoothies! Granted it wasn’t thick like a milkshake but I did not experience any issues with collapsing or any sort of drag, despite their small diameter size, making them versatile enough to suit my needs. I can’t speak to how well they hold up over the long haul but so far so good!
When we head out nowadays I usually pack in teenie’s cooler with a mason jar of milk, Kleen Kanteen filled with water and a Softy Straw. I’ve even added a couple Softy Straws to my go bag of reusables to have on hand in case myself or my husband needs one when we are out. The stainless straw cups are perfect for drinking around the house or for car trips where she needs a little backseat bevvie action and any of the these options are great to have on hand when going out to eat. Having a limited supply makes it more imperative that I stay on top of keeping them clean, which has already helped cut down on the amount of dishes piling up in the sink or the dishwasher.
I’m really happy with all of the swaps we made to teenie’s drink ware. Thus far everything has proven to have its time! The entire collection will continue to play a key part in reducing her production of disposable waste and its nice no longer having to fear the possibility of plastic related chemicals being washed down along with every sip.
**Softy Straws provided me the straws to try out! They did not pay me in any way and all opinions you have read today are completely mine.