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Significant efforts are afoot to reduce plastic waste and one way of doing so is to revert to using natural straws as drinking straws.

This example uses wheat straws but it doesn't matter which plant is used, particularly as the word 'straw' is non-specific (see Cambridge) and can relate to any grain producing a hollow stalk.

So if a non-specific straw is used as a drinking straw can we call it a 'straw straw' ?

Or is there a better description ?


Edit Note : The term 'natural straw' would not be specific to usage as a drinking straw. It could be used for other things. The term 'straw straw' makes clearer both composition and use, I believe.

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    It's only a dubious usage at the style level. 'A straw actually made from natural straw' might be a slight improvement. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '18 at 14:10
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    a natural straw – Jelila Mar 14 '18 at 14:20
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    @Jelila A vast improvement. How versatile English is. Sometimes. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '18 at 14:24
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    Well I thought it was good as it covers various materials. Though I think a straw straw is quite correct. I quite like it actually! Prosaic nature of English! @Edwin – Jelila Mar 14 '18 at 14:29
  • Isn't it more common to use the term 'biodegradable' to describe these types of straws? – John Go-Soco Mar 14 '18 at 14:35
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A drinking straw made from real straw, in this day and age, could be called:

  • a green straw (but it could also refer to its color)

  • an eco-friendly straw (but it could refer to reusable plastic or glass straws)

  • an organic straw (but that could also mean organic wheat straw)

  • biodegradable straw (but that could mean the plastic is oxo-biodegradable)

  • straw drinking-straw (is probably your best bet)

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The first drinking straws were indeed made from rye stalks cut and cured by farmers who grew the grain anyway, but since the 1880s and before the advent of the plastic version, they were made from waxed Manila paper.

A modern take on a drinking straw made from actual straw does bill itself as a straw straw, but that will likely last only as long as the kickstarter campaign.

No matter the material, people looking for straws in restaurants or supermarkets ask for a straw/straws with no attributive adjective. If one needed to make the distinction, paper, plastic, or natural would probably do the trick. A reduplicated straw straw would initially be amusing until the novelty wore off. Then it would probably seem infantile, like choo choo, no-no, or poo-poo.

  • 'Coffee coffee' is still acceptable; it's probably the semantic connection that is going to make 'straw straw' be considered too infantile. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '18 at 17:29
  • @EdwinAshworth: What is coffee coffee? Brewed instead of instant or real coffee as opposed to something made out of barley people drank during the war? – KarlG Mar 14 '18 at 17:56
  • as enviro laws pass, asking for a 'bio straw' may become moot ... it may be the only straw offered. – lbf Mar 14 '18 at 18:28
  • Mentioned at Is there a word for using a word twice to imply something different. It's a modern usage, so would pragmatically be taken as your former suggestion, but really borders on the POB as 'proper coffee: the sort I like'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 14 '18 at 22:57
  • You might be interested in this answer english.stackexchange.com/questions/200887/… – Mari-Lou A Mar 26 '18 at 23:06

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