For those times when you really need a straw, consider investing in some reusable ones, or choose a plastic-free version.
I'm not a straw person by nature, so I don't ever use them, but sometimes, especially when kids or the elderly are involved, I've seen a real need for them, so we've invested in both glass and steel straws for use at home (pro tip: If you have tile in the kitchen, choose steel). However, every so often, we still end up with a box of plastic straws in our house, leftover from an event or gathering, and even though we wash and reuse them, they are still a pain my eco-conscious rear, because PLASTIC IS FOREVER.
If only there was a truly biodegradable straw... I'm half-kidding, because there are certainly straw alternatives (such as my personal favorite, if only because I dig the name, which is said to be available this coming fall), but part of the problem is that while cheap plastic straws are available everywhere, you really have to go out and look for them (which, to be fair, is super easy to do online these days) and then order them. It's not nearly as easy as the impulse buy of straws at the grocery store, but until they start stocking plastic-free straws on more store shelves, ordering a greener alternative to have on hand is really our only recourse.If you're a straw user, straw buyer, or straw enabler, consider Aardvark Straws, because its paper straws are not only compostable and biodegradable, as well as (businesses take note) being available in more than 200 different designs, but the company also donates a percentage of sales to sea turtle conservation and research efforts. Aardvark's Sea Turtle Eco-Flex® Paper Straws are a bendy paper straw, made entirely in the US from "FDA food grade-approved inks and paper" (said to be the only ones on the market like that), and 15% of the sales of from these straws is donated to a worthy GoFundMe campaign.
According to Aardvark, the following video, in which a plastic straw was removed from the nostril of a sea turtle, was the inspiration for the Sea Turtle straws:
If you've ever had a bad paper straw incident, where the straw started disintegrating before you were done using it, you might be hesitant to try these, but the company says that their straws "contain 1/3 more material than competing straws, meaning they will last even longer in your drinks without degrading or getting soggy."
Aardvark straws definitely cost more than cheapo plastic straws, but considering that cheap plastic goods come with a much higher external cost to the environment, I think it's a pretty good trade-off. A single pack of 144 Sea Turtle straws runs about $30 USD, which seems rather high compared to the $1.99 boxes from Walmart, but at only 20 cents each (and probably less with volume discounts for restaurants and institutional orders), and with no added eco-guilt, the paper straws seem like a viable option, especially in a world that's rapidly being covered with plastic debris.
Find out more about the paper straws available from Aardvark.