Microplastics from Plastic Tea Bags.

Mircoplastics are in your tea bags – watch out! We know it is Fall.  The weather is cooling down. You are looking to stay warm. You grab your bag of premium tea, place it in a cup of hot water, and the brewing commences. Cheers, now enjoy your herb and microplastic cocktail!

Wait, what!? Yes, that’s right, microplastics are literally everywhere, now they’re in your tea! According to a group of researchers, plastic tea bags are shedding billions of microplastics into your drink. There’s a microplastic storm brewing, and even anti-plastic warriors like us at OkStraw are scared.

Microplastics Impacting Soil & Food

We featured microplastics in previous news articles, but here’s a refresher. Microplastics are any plastic pieces smaller than 5mm in size, and they can come from anything. Microplastics in the ocean come from discarded everyday plastic items that disintegrate, to fishing nets. And it’s not just in the ocean, microplastics are in the soil, too.

A recent survey in the UK found microplastics in soil cause earthworms to lose weight. Earthworms provide important nutrients for farmers, and provide essential crop yields. If microplastics kill earthworms, then low crop yields could cause mass food shortages for the world’s most vulnerable people.

While scientists don’t yet know if microplastics directly harm people, we already know they can indirectly. What’s worse, the average person ingests 5 grams of plastic every week, equivalent to eating a credit card! By now, microplastics should scare you like they do us at OkStraw.

Plastic Tea Bags To Blame

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada made this discovery. After submerging four different commercial tea bags into boiling water, the researchers measured the article counts. When the results came in, the news was astonishing.

Researchers found that a single plastic tea bag sheds almost 12 billion microplastic pieces in a cup, and 3 billion nanoparticles! These numbers are thousands of times larger than microplastics previously found in foods and drinks. We wish these numbers were a typo, but sadly they aren’t

Plastic tea bags are perforated to allow water to flow through the leaves, so there are tons of microplastic shavings remaining. Even some paper tea bags aren’t always safe, because many of them use plastic sealants. So now that you’re downright petrified of your tea bags (sorry!), how can OkStraw put you at ease?

How to Stop Plastic Shedding?

The good news is there are plenty of biodegradable alternatives to plastic tea bags. Buy loose leaf tea, and use them with plastic-free metal infusers or you own paper tea bags. If you absolutely want a ready-made tea, then consult websites like this to see which companies use plastics, and avoid them.

So how does OkStraw Paper Straws fit into all of this? Good question! Plastic straws and plastic tea bags have a lot in common. They both cause needless plastic waste, but it’s easy to cut them out. We at OkStraw only make biodegradable paper straws, and there’s none of this plastic sealant nonsense, either!

For those who enjoy their iced tea, why not pick up a paper straw to go with you paper tea bags? Want a paper bendy straw? We’ve got you covered, and boba fans will love our premium strength Bubble Tea Paper Straws. So from us at OkStraw, ditch those plastic tea bags, brew responsibly, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

Plastics Ban & Paper Product Solutions

A German Plastics Ban Fights Climate Crisis

Germany is launching it’s newest initiative to combat the climate crisis – a ban on single use plastics. This German plastics ban focuses on curbing consumption of plastic straws, cutlery, cups and cotton swabs.  Also included in the German plastics ban are non-compostable to-go containers.

Confronting a Throw Away Culture

While the ban has a light footprint, it acknowledges a shift way from “throw-away culture.” The environment minister, Svenja Schulze, says the purpose of the ban is to move away from “throw-away culture”.  Long held as a solution for the future, plastics are increasing contributing to the problems of now.  Indeed, throw-away culture is the by-product of past thinking.  Unfortunately, it sticks around even when its unwanted – much like single-use plastics it promotes. It’s for that reason, other countries are joining the cause too.

Canada Early to Act Against Plastics

Canadian launched a plastics ban in 2019.  This legislation offers businesses a year to phase out plastic products. Items such as straws, bags, cutlery and to-go containers are included.  By 2021 the ban is set to be 100% active. In fact, Justin Trudeau is now credited by taking early leadership on environmental sustainability.  Perhaps this Canadian plastics ban sets an example for other Western economies as well.

A US Plastics Ban In the Future?

The fight against single-use plastics is at every level of government in America. Almost everyone. The federal government is largely mum on the topic.  However, states such as California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Main, New York, Oregon, and Vermont are leaders banning plastics.  In fact, the real shift has been on a city level where citizens are demanding change in their own communities. Local action has percolated into state action.  Perhaps this state action can transition into a federal action as well.

Paper Product Solutions

At OkStraw Paper Straws, its more than saying “no” to plastics. We encourage saying yes to paper products.  We deliver our 4-Ply strength straws globally.  So wherever the next moment of change happens, we’ll be there. We are ready to support cities and small businesses alike with sustainable paper products.

restaurants canada show 2020 okstraw paper straws

RCSHOW – Restaurants Canada Show – Toronto

OkStraw paper straws - Western Foodservice expo 2019

BOOTH 3016

Join OkStraw Paper Straws in booth 3016 at the Restaurants Canada Show in Toronto from March 1st to 3rd. Our team is ready to meet your paper straw needs!

For attendees focusing on cafe supply, bar supply and restaurant supply, be sure to stop and meet us at OkStraw Paper Straws. With competitively priced and high strength paper straws, OkStraw is the one-stop shop to meet your eco-friendly foodware supply needs.

Strength Comes in 4-Plies - Boba Straws and More

Restaurants Canada Show attendees will find all the popular offerings from OkStraw Paper Straws, and then some. Along with our affordable-but-tough 3-ply paper straws, OkStraw’s 4-ply paper straw inventory keeps getting bigger. Our 4-ply paper straws have unbeatable strength and longevity: how does 5 hours in a drink sound? 

For Restaurants Canada Show attendees in the cafe supply business, OkStraw Paper Straws has you covered. Our 4-ply Boba Paper Straws are plastic straw ban compliant, but they don’t sacrifice performance. Not only are they rated for 5 hours, but they come with diagonal cut tips, making them perfect for piercing sealed tops. How can we make bubble tea paper straws strong enough to piece a bubble tea lid? Well let’s just say it was top secret!

red stripe boba paper straws -the perfect paper straw for boba tea and bubble tea with a diagonal cut tip for piercing the top of boba tea and bubble tea lids

Spoon Straws and U-Shaped Bendy Straws

Finding plastic ban-compliant straws can be a real struggle for folks in restaurant supply, but OkStraw Paper Straws makes it easier. Restaurants Canada Show attendees selling slushies will find OkStraw Spoon Paper Straws perfect for their needs. Available in 4-ply and in multiple sizes, OkStraw spoon paper straws hold up to any blended ice drink, and won’t collapse or go soggy. 

Restaurants Canada Show Toronto attendees in restaurant supply know they need straws for everyone. However, it’s challenging to find good bendable paper straws. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we say challenge accepted.  OkStraw’s Bendy Paper Straws are ADA-compliant, making them a real alternative to plastic bendy straws. Try our bendable paper straws at Restaurants Canada Show and you’ll agree, the plastic straw is finished.

Come See Us!

From humble 3-ply, to specialty 4-ply paper bubble tea straws, OkStraw Paper Straws has you covered. With custom prints available, fast lead times and certified biodegradability, OkStraw has your business covered. When you’re at Restaurants Canada Show Toronto, come see OkStraw at Booth 3016, and join the Cause for Paper Straws!

San Diego Food Bank Receives Thanksgiving Paper Straw Donation from OkStraw

OkStraw Gives Back. An Eco-Friendly Donation to the San Diego Food Bank.

The San Diego Food Bank received a generous paper straw donation from OkStraw today.  Afterall, what do all things about Thanksgivings have in common? Everyone needs a paper straw, of course! Here at OkStraw, we created our own Thanksgiving tradition.  We ditched plastic and switched to paper straws. We hope our tradition becomes part of every Thanksgiving dinner. To honor this tradition, OkStraw donated over $1500 dollars worth of paper straws to the San Diego Food Bank.

Thanksgiving Traditions – Mark them with Holiday Paper Straws

At OkStraw, Thanksgiving Traditions mark a part of our corporate culture. Perhaps Boba Tea is your Thanksgiving tradition? OkStraw offers 4-Ply Bubble Tea straws! Or maybe you love the NFL.  Shop for our Sports Paper Straws. No matter the reason, make our paper straws your newest Thanksgiving tradition.  We will honor your purchase with future donations to the San Diego Food Bank.

Food Waste and San Diego Food Bank Solutions

We often talk about changes we can make to live more sustainably.  For example, shopping with reusable bags.  Or, replace plastic with paper straws. What we often don’t talk about enough, however, is food waste. Uneaten food that goes to waste puts a huge burden on our planet.  In fact, it makes food insecurity worse. However, organizations like the Jacobs & Cushman North County Food Bank chapter are leading the charge against food waste.  They provide hunger relief to vulnerable people in San Diego county.

Food Waste be gone.  Distributing 28 million pounds of food in 2018 alone, and serving an average of 350,000 people in need each month, the Food Bank is the largest organization of its type in San Diego County. With 1 in 7 adults and 1 in 5 children in San Diego County facing food insecurity, the San Diego Food Bank is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people. It is also a role model for sustainability, and the fight against food waste.

SD’s Food Bank is making a major local contribution toward the global fight against food waste.

Food waste is a significant threat to the health of our planet. Globally, an estimated $750 billion worth of food is wasted, and according to a study by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, food waste is responsible for 3.3 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. If the emissions resulting from food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to climate change behind China and the United States.

Food waste is also causing serious harm to world nutrition. In 2015, more than 150 countries assembled at the United Nations to agree on the Sustainable Development Goals, with 2030 as the year to reach these goals. In order to meet the goal of meeting food security, the world must cut down its food waste by 50 percent.

The only food distribution center in the world with an LEED v4 accolade

San Diego Food Bank is also a role model for sustainability in the County. Thanks to 1,400 solar panels, the Food Bank’s 90 thousand foot warehouse is completely energy independent, significantly reducing its carbon footprint. With this energy saved, the food bank provided for families in need with an addition 600,000 meals each year.

The San Diego Food Bank also boasts an impressive composting machine that can separate food waste from plastic, paper and aluminum food packaging, which is sent to recycling. The Food Bank then sends this compost to nonprofit organizations that run community gardens. All of these green initiatives led to the bank’s acility being first and only building in the County to attain LEED v4 Gold Status certification, and the only food bank in the world with an LEED v4 accolade.

OkStraw Paper Straws is proud to be the latest local business to contribute to the San Diego Food Bank’s mission

Additionally, OkStraw donated over $1500 dollars worth of paper straws to the San Diego Food Bank to show our thanks to the local community!

The San Diego Food Bank relies on donations from local individuals and businesses to provide residents with the necessary help. OkStraw is proud to continue contributing to their mission, by donating 100,000 biodegradable paper straws. This amounts to over $1500 dollars worth of paper straws, which will go to local community centers, churches and food drives. We at OkStraw Paper Straws are honored to contribute to San Diego Food Bank’s mission to end hunger in the County, and lead the fight for sustainability.

Halloween Paper Straws

California Aims to End Single Use-Plastics by 2030

This week, lawmakers in Sacramento are considering three bills that would effectively end single-use plastics within the next decade. These bills would require all single-use plastic foodware and packaging sold in California be recyclable, or compostable by Jan. 1 2030. The bills would also require a 75 percent reduction in waste from single-use packaging.


Under the bill, all single-use foodware including plates, takeout containers, cutlery, cups and straws will need to be recyclable or compostable. Products made from polystyrene and plastic-coated plastic like milk containers will be banned, unless companies make them recyclable. If passed, these California single-use plastic laws will be the strictest of their type in the country. California state legislators have until the end of this week to vote these bills into law, or else they come up for voting next year.

We don’t just want single-use plastics laws, we desperately need them

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch will keep growing bigger and bigger each day, unless we make serious changes

No More Single-Use Plastics

Most of us know how bad single-use plastics are for the environment, but the statistics still shock us at OkStraw Paper Straws. Half of all plastic on Earth is less than 13 years old, and in the U.S. alone, only 9 percent of it sold gets recycled. What’s worse, 13 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. This plastic kills marine animals, and it’s getting worse. A recent study found that by 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish.


These numbers show that we don’t just want single-use plastics laws, we desperately need them. The problem, however, is that the infrastructure to recycle all plastics isn’t there yet, and plastics companies won’t make this step unless the law requires them to do so. At California-based OkStraw Paper Straws, however, we took the initiative, left single-use plastics in the past, where they should be. 


At OkStraw Paper Straws, we aren't worried, because the future without single-use plastics is already here.

Supporters and Opponents

The two main legislators behind these bills are Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez from San Diego, and state Senator Ben Allen from Santa Monica. California’s major environmental groups support the bills, including the Sierra Club, Audubon California, and Oceana. Cities like Los Angeles and San Diego (OkStraw’s hometown) are also throwing in their endorsements, and restricted single-use plastics themselves.  


California’s proposed single-use plastics laws have a number of opponents however, including the California Chamber of Commerce, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. These groups say California’s single-use plastics laws will will be too costly, and even make modern products like toothpaste illegal. At OkStraw Paper Straws, we aren’t worried, because the future without single-use plastics is already here.


While some companies kick and scream about a future beyond single-use plastic, we at OkStraw Paper Straws are already there. 

Paper Straws for California

OkStraw solves the plastic straw problem by making paper straws for today. Our Bendy Paper Straws are ADA compliant, and our Boba Tea Paper Straws offer uncompromised strength and durability. Complying with California’s single-use plastics laws isn’t rocket science, it’s paper science! OkStraw shows that paper is a practical alternative to plastic for single-use foodware like cups, straws, plates and takeout containers.

Yes, paper doesn’t work as well for some products, but that’s why compostable PLA-based plastics are there. While PLA plastics aren’t as biodegradable as paper, they are far better than fossil fuel-based plastics. So California’s single-use plastics laws won’t be the end of the world, in fact they will help save the world. While some companies kick and scream about a future beyond single-use plastic, we at OkStraw Paper Straws are already there. 

OkStraw Paper Straws featured on SLATE.com

We are excited that OkStraw Paper Straws is one of the featured paper straw companies in this great article from SLATE.com! Author of the article, Seth Stevenson, dropped by our San Diego warehouse in late August to discuss our role in the paper straw industry and how our products are disrupting the single-use plastic straw market. 

Check out the full SLATE ARTICLE here.


“…That’s still not enough to keep up with the gush of orders from restaurants scrambling to comply with new straw laws and norms. A bunch of opportunistic entrepreneurs have leapt in to grab the overflow business.

Among these entrepreneurs is 33-year-old Brent Ohlendorf, the chief operating officer of OK Straw, which launched last year. OK makes its paper straws in China, but, says Ohlendorf, these are premium straws constructed with top-shelf, Food and Drug Administration–approved papers and glues. When customers want to contact a rep, they needn’t send an email to a Mandarin speaker on the other side of the world because—as I discovered when I first called the company’s main number— they can get Ohlendorf, picking up with a cheery greeting, on the phone in California. ‘Service as strong as the straw’ is his motto. The business model is Chinese manufacturing costs, American imprimatur.

OkStraw paper straws - Western Foodservice expo 2019
A few OkStraw Team Members: Brent Ohlendorf, Edward Nickerson, and Jackson Jiang
Check out our Sea Animal Paper Straws

Ohlendorf’s partner is a 54-year-old Chinese man named Jiang Jingchun who’d previously made most of his money exporting silica. They met because Jiang owns a house in the San Diego suburbs next door to Ohlendorf’s cousin. In the spring of last year, sensing that legislation against plastic straws was gathering momentum, they hatched a plan. They quickly established a 30-employee paper straw factory in southern China. Then they opened a distribution center, about the size of a two-car garage, in a light industrial park in northern San Diego. When I visited, it was just Ohlendorf, Jiang, Jiang’s 23-year-old son Jackson (who referenced the turtle video and called it ‘really emotional’), and two other employees. This was the sum of their U.S. workforce. All five men were wearing matching green OK Straw T-shirts.

As we discussed the ins and outs of food-grade materials and wholesale restaurant supply, the OK Straw team pressed some of its paper straw products into my hands. There was the top-of-the-line, four-ply “steakhouse” straw they consider their flagship. (Older-generation Chinese paper straws were two-ply, and even good paper straws are often only three-ply.) There was their fast-selling boba tea straw, with a wide mouth for sucking up tapioca pearls and a pointy tip for stabbing through cup lids. (Ohlendorf says the plentiful boba tea shops in San Francisco got desperate when that city’s ban took effect in July, as there were few existing nonplastic alternatives that met boba specs.) They also had an articulated paper straw that can bend 180 degrees. They view this one as a natural for attaching to the backs of juice boxes. All these were developed within the past 12 months, in a rush to identify customer needs.

Boba Paper Straws
Bendable Paper Straws

Ohlendorf couldn’t help but chuckle when he saw news reports about the Trump campaign’s plastic straw gambit. First, there was the absurd price: $15 for a 10-pack, or $1.50 a straw. OK will sell you straws for under a penny per if you buy in bulk. But even more comical to Ohlendorf was the fact that OK has provided paper straws to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. ‘His campaign says paper straws don’t work, but his hotel is buying them,’ Ohlendorf said. He added that the Trump hotel is late on its payment…”

-Seth Stevenson  SLATE.com

OkStraw and Trump Hotel

Kamala Harris Supports Banning Plastic Straws

The other night, a CNN host ask California Senator Kamala Harris whether she would ban plastic straws. Senator Harris answered:      “I think we should”. As an alternative, Harris supported switching to paper straws, but her she didn’t think paper straws were strong enough. Senator Harris argued that we we need more innovation and incentive for companies to make better paper straws.

Fret not, Senator Harris, because better paper straws already exist, and are here to end plastic straws. OkStraw makes paper straws with unbeatable performance, for any drink imaginable. Thanks to innovations from OkStraw Paper Straws, we’re ready to usher in paper straws for a Senator Harris’ plastic-free America.

Plastic straw cause immense damage to marine animals

Kamala Harris on Plastic Straws

The plastic straw question came to Kamala Harris during a CNN-hosted town hall meeting on September 4th. Audience member Cassandra Valent asked Senator Harris what she would do as president to reduce plastic waste. Harris answered by pointing specifically to plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic bags. When CNN Host Erin Burnett asked Kamala Harris whether she supported a plastic straw ban, Harris said she did.


Additionally, Senator Harris brought up sustainable alternatives to plastic straws, namely paper straws. We at OkStraw are excited to hear Kamala Harris bring up the plastic straws in the presidential race, and name paper straws as real solutions. Senator Harris’ remarks on plastic straws show this isn’t just a West or East Coast issue, it’s an American issue.

Senator Harris on Weak Paper Straws

Although Kamala Harris wants to see paper straws replace plastic straws, she brought up problems she had with paper straws. Senator Harris said she found it hard to drink out of plastic straws, because they broke before she could finish her drink. For that reason, Senator Harris wants to see companies make better, longer lasting paper straws.

OkStraw understands this frustration Kamala Harris feels, and it’s because paper straw companies cut corners. Many paper straw companies cut corners by making straws out of cardboard, or skimping on layers. These cardboard and thin straws quickly go soggy, and just don’t last long enough. Subpar paper straws turn people away, and do the entire industry a disservice. OkStraw knows first impressions make all the difference, and Senator Harris will be astounded by our paper straws.

Poorly made paper straws ruin your drink, and your experience

OkStraw Paper Straws for Harris' New America

Kamala Harris wants to see better paper straws, and that’s where OkStraw comes in. Based in Senator Harris’ home state, OkStraw makes the toughest, longest lasting paper straws on the market. We use organic paper, glue and coloring to make a straw that lasts hours in your drink, but harmlessly composts


OkStraw’s innovative manufacturing processes mean we make paper straws for any drink imaginable. Angle tipped boba tea paper straws? We’ve got you. Paper spoon straws for slushies? Ditto. ADA-compliant paper bendy straws? Of course! Show us your design or logo, and we’ll print it. Needless to say, OkStraw has all the innovation Kamala Harris wants to see from paper straws. So Senator Harris, please keep spreading your message, and encourage more Americans to join the Cause for Paper Straws.

OkStraw Paper Straws Teams Up with Environmental Group BEAT

What do environmental groups and paper straws have in common? Both do their part to keep our oceans free from plastic waste. That’s why OkStraw Paper Straws is proud to announce that we’re teaming up with BEAT. Brunswick Environmental Action Team (BEAT) is based out of North Carolina, and works to keep Brunswick County a beautiful place.

As beachgoing San Diego natives, we at OkStraw Paper Straws know how important environmental groups are. Beaches and oceans free from plastic waste benefit everyone, but people need to protect them. When the beach is your home, you need to make it a clean and safe place to live. Thanks to the BEAT’s work, more Brunswick County residents are fight for healthier beaches and lands. 

About BEAT

Located on North Carolina’s southern coast, Brunswick County boasts stunning beaches and natural land preserves. A group of Brunswick locals wanted to protect these places, and founded the first BEAT in 1996. The original BEAT founders eventually retired and passed away, though, and BEAT went into hiatus. In 2017, however, former members of a local environmental group got together, and started BEAT back up. Since then, BEAT is going stronger than ever.

The environment is first priority for BEAT, not partisanship. BEAT hosts board meetings that anyone can attend, and be part of the discussion. Educating people about the local environment and protecting is the mission at BEAT, and we at OkStraw Paper Straws value this commitment. OkStraw works to fight plastic waste by taking harmful plastic straws out of the equation, and protect marine animals.

BEAT and OkStraw: Our Shared Goals

Because Brunswick County is on the Atlantic Ocean, protecting marine life is paramount for BEAT. The environmental group opposes offshore oil drilling and seismic testing, as both hurt marine animals. BEAT also opposes single-use plastic bags, and we at OkStraw Paper Straws oppose them as well. Plastic pollution of any kind hurts marine animals, and OkStraw does its part to take cut out plastic straws. OkStraw and BEAT both come together in our shared goal of a world free from plastic waste, and clean place to live.

Environmental groups like BEAT remind us at OkStraw why we never take shortcuts to protect the ocean. OkStraw only uses compostable and organic paper, glues and food dyes, and no chemicals, waxes or plastics. If you want to protect the environment, then you need to be true to yourself, and never make compromises

Beat Out Plastic Waste

Thanks to environmental groups like BEAT, people are more empowered to protect the planet. Groups like BEAT raise awareness about issues like plastic waste, and empower everyday people to make sustainable changes. Even small changes like switching from plastic straws to paper straws go a long way to cutting out harmful waste. OkStraw Paper Straws looks forward to BEAT’s future, and their work to keep Brunswick County a beautiful place to live. Thanks to environmental groups like BEAT, more people are ditching plastic, and are joining the Cause for Paper Straws.

The History of Paper Straw Producers

So you’re shopping for paper straws, and you think “why didn’t anyone think of inventing this before”? Well they did, as a matter of fact. The paper straws are nothing new; they have a long history, are they are making their well-deserved comeback. Straws came in all sizes and materials, serving both nobility and humble folk. So sit back, grab a drink and let OkStraw take you on a brief journey through the amazing history of the paper straw and its siblings.


The Sumerians used straws to drink their brewed beverages

Straws Fit for Kings

You may think drinking straws are a more recent invention, but their history goes back much farther. Ancient Sumerians used straws for drinking their beer, and the royals even used straws befitting their status. Archaeologists discovered a 5,000 year-old jeweled gold straw in a Sumerian tomb, a far cry from the humble paper straw. While Sumerian weren’t  paper straw producers, they created the idea that led to its invention.

Not all straws were meant for Mesopotamian kings, however. For hundreds of years, South Americans used metal straws called bombillas for drinking mate (pronounced Mah-tay). Mate is a tea that requires a filter on a straw to separate the brewed leaves from the drink. Wealthy people used silver bombillas, while more modest people used hollowed out canes for straws. South American societies weren’t paper straw producers, but they had the innovative idea of using biodegradable materials.

Enter the Paper Straw

Spanning from Mesopotamia to South America, the drinking straw has an international history. The paper straw’s story, however, is distinctly American. During the 1800s, people used rye grass straws, but this straw had its share of problems. Rye straws became mushy easily, and it had a habit of making drinks grassy tasting. American inventor Marvin C. Stone noticed this taste problem while drinking his mint julep through a rye straw on a hot day. Unsatisfied, Stone set out to make a better drinking straw.

Marvin C. Stone wound strips paper around a pencil to make a tube, removed the pencil, and glued the strips together. The result was the world’s first paper straw. Stone later applied a wax coating to his paper straws, so they would hold together in case the glue dissolved. Stone patented his paper straw in 1888, and with it, he became the first paper straw producer.

paper straw inventor
Marvin C. Stone, Father of the Paper Straw

The Burdensome Plastic Straw

Mr. Stone’s wax-coated paper straws were soon a hit in America, and became a household and restaurant staple. Soon after World War II ended, however, paper straws faced a new challenger. With more companies turning to fossil fuels, plastic straws quickly caught on. Cheaper for companies to mass produce, plastic straws eventually replaced paper straws by the 1960s. Soon after, the number of paper straw producers dwindled. While cheaper to make than paper straws, plastic straws caused a slew of serious new problems.


While plastic straws are supposed be reusable, most people throw them away after only using them one. Plastic straws easily wind up in rivers and oceans, where marine animals get injured or killed after mistakenly eating them. Switching from paper straws to plastic straws was cheaper, but it brought a devastating cost to marine animals. 

Paper Straws from the Past, for the Future

Fast forward to today, and the tide is finally turning against harmful single-use plastic straws. More people are outraged by the harm plastic straws cause, and more cities, towns, states are banning them. Once the king of straws, the paper straw is finally making its triumphant comeback, and it’s stronger and better than ever. What held back Marvin C. Stone’s paper straws were unfortunately technological shortcomings. The glues at the time couldn’t stand up to drinks, and his machines could only make thin straws. 

Thanks to new innovations, however, paper straw producers like OkStraw can make paper straws with no wax, and in different sizes and shapes. Once only possible with plastic, you can now buy slushie paper spoon straws, pointed boba tea paper straws, and even bendy paper straws. OkStraw combines organic, compostable ingredients with cutting edge technology that would make Mr. Stone proud. 

Time for Cruise Lines to Ditch Plastic Straws

All aboard the cruise ship! Yes, those gigantic monoliths, full of fun and parties that ferry passengers from one warm vacation spot to the next. Unfortunately, these floating resort cities have an ugly side to them: plastic waste, and it’s worse than we thought. 

Cruise ships have an uphill battle against plastic waste, but there are plenty of steps they can take to get the momentum going. For starters, how about ditching plastic straws, and only using paper straws? As cruise ships regularly sail through ecosystems of threatened marine animals, this seems like the biggest no-brainer. We at OkStraw challenge these cruise lines to ditch plastic straws once and for all.

Plastic Waste Behemoths

Modern cruise ships are notorious trash generators. Not only do they dump trash and plastic waste, but they also dump grease, oil and sewage. This waste causes tremendous harm to the oceans, because water currents carry it over long distances.


Recently, Carnival Cruise agreed to pay a $20 million fine for illegally dumping waste out at sea. The cruise line allegedly threw massive amounts of plastic waste overboard while in the Bahamas. The damage Carnival Cruise caused to marine life has yet to be seen, but it is likely massive.

Cruise Away from Plastic Straws

Why should we care so much about cruise ships dumping plastic straws, though? Because they are most directly responsible for plastic polluting our oceans. Cruise ships bypass landfills, storm drains, beaches, and dump plastic directly into oceans. There are no landfills out at sea, so cruise ships treat oceans like them.

If you’re the only defense between a plastic straw and a sea turtle, then you’re responsible for that turtle. As a passenger, you can’t rely on the cruise ship to properly dispose of your used plastic straw. If you threw that plastic straw away, then chances are it could go overboard and into the ocean.

Make the Change to Paper Straws

How can cruise lines prevent plastic straws from entering the ocean? Stop using them altogether. Cruise lines need to cut out plastic straws entirely, and use paper straws instead. If the cruise lines won’t change, then there is another way. Passengers need to refuse plastic straws, and bring their own paper straws, instead. 


Cruise ships are the most direct place where switching from plastic straws to paper straws makes all the difference. People should properly dispose of or recycle paper straws, but that doesn’t always happen. When a paper straw goes overboard, it won’t harm marine animals. Paper straws biodegrade, plastic straws do not, so using paper straws is a great failsafe. With so many high quality choices from companies like OkStraw, it’s time for cruise lines to get onboard with the Cause Paper Straws.

OkStraw Donates Paper Straws to Father Joe’s Villages

Last Saturday, OkStraw Paper Straws to lent a hand to Father Joe’s Villages. We donated $300 worth of pillows, and $600 worth of paper straws. Our COO, Brent Ohlendorf, and Director of Client Relations, Edward Nickerson, along with other OkStraw volunteers, helped serve 500 hot meals to people in need. When you buy from OkStraw Paper Straws, you both reduce plastic waste, and support a business that gives back to its community!

OkStraw’s mission is is to safeguard land and sea habitats by supplying global markets with reliable, premium strength, paper straws. We believe that mission is strengthen by supporting the needs of our community in every capacity possible. OkStraw has donated paper straws to the San Diego Food Bank and plans to continue supporting Father Joe’s Village and other valuable community resources. When we say our service is as strong as our straws, we mean our community service too!

Brent, Edward, and Savannah from OkStraw Paper Straws

When we say our service is as strong as our straws, we mean our community service too!

If you live in San Diego, then chances are you’ve heard of Father Joe’s Villages. A fixture of the city and appearing on TV, the Villages gives a helping hand to the 9,000 San Diegans experiencing homelessness every day, and the 5,000 who are forced to sleep in the streets every night. 

Father Joe’s Villages welcomes 2,000 men, women and children facing homelessness into safe shelter every night, and serves more than a million hot meals every year. When people have food, water and shelter, they can take the next steps to improve their lives. Father Joe’s Villages also provides healthcare, dental care, mental health counseling, job placement and training, and childcare services.

Father Joe’s Villages has helped 11,000 people experiencing homelessness achieve permanent housing

All of these services are there to help people better their lives, and help break these vicious cycles of poverty and homelessness. In the past 10 years alone, Father Joe’s Villages has helped 11,000 people experiencing homelessness achieve permanent housing. This includes several individuals with disabilities that require paper straws. Helping these people is why OkStraw set out to start our paper straw donations with the organization. We plan to continue donating our paper straws to the disabled and those in need on a continual basis. 

Father Joe’s Villages is also in the process of serving even more people through its Turning the Key project. The organization plans to add 2,000 more affordable housing units for San Diegans overcoming homeless. With the 4th largest homeless population in the US, and the 3rd largest population of veterans experiencing homelessness, Father Joe’s Villages’ services are in greater demand than ever before. It is through the Turning the Key project that OkStraw and our sister brand EcoTrueBamboo that we donated $300 worth of bamboo pillows. You can follow EcoTrueBamboo on Facebook here: EcoTrueBamboo Facebook.

When you buy from OkStraw Paper Straws, you are supporting a business that gives back to its community

Father Joe Carroll, for whom the nonprofit is named, moved from the Bronx, New York to San Diego in 1963, with little money to his name. Ordained in 1974, Father Joe led a parish for the next years, until 1982, when Bishop Leo Maher approached him, and asked him to take over the St. Vincent de Paul Center. 

Throughout the 80s, Father Joe made the innovative decision of creating a one-stop place to help people experiencing homelessness. In 1987, Father Joe opened the $12 million Joan Kroc Center, which provides healthcare, food, housing, job training, and childcare services to families and single adults in need. Although Father Joe retired in 2011, he continues to help out San Diegans experiencing homeless, and is a lasting pillar of the community. 

OkStraw is very proud to support Father Joe’s Villages with both community service hours and donated paper straws and pillows!

Do your part saving the Earth – There’s something YOU can do about it! Reducing or not using plastic straws. Join the cause for paper straws!

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