Why McDonald's Plastic Straws Are Selling For Hundreds Of Dollars On eBay

On eBay, bidding lots for McDonald's plastic straws have reached into the thousands of dollars. While many of the straws now suffusing the eBay search results go for reasonable-ish prices like $1.40 for one unopened or $1.99 for two, with neither factoring shipping, others are attempting to command a buy-it-now price of $6,359.63 for individual straws. Other attempts charge $4,239.75, $7,066.25, and $2,444.80 for one with a ketchup packet.

It should be noted that no one has actually bought the straws for thousands of dollars. It should also be noted that many of these sellers are based in the United Kingdom which may go some way to explaining the logic behind them selling plastic straws from McDonald's at prices higher than many people make in a month. In 2019, Wide Open Eats reported that McDonald's intended to phase out plastic straws in restaurants in response to a growing legal movement to ban plastic straws outright. This creates scarcity, transforming the straw into a collector's item. It also creates a "potential" market for people upset over the paper straw replacements, who in Wide Open Eats' coverage have noticed that these new straws disintegrate in McDonald's milkshakes.

You don't need to spend thousands

Plastic straw bans all over have led to much word wringing about what we should use in their stead. Paper straws, as McDonald's offers, draw the complaint of disintegration. Further, as Reviewed puts it, even though their decomposition period is better than the millennium it could take for one of McDonald's plastic straws to decompose, it still takes six months for them to fully disintegrate within a saltwater environment.

Metal straws are another popular replacement. They have the disadvantage of being entirely unsuitable for hot drinks, and as Esquire reveals, have their own environmental downsides. For one thing, producing one metal straw results in the same carbon emissions as 150 of the plastic variety, meaning you have to use your metal straw 150 separate times if you want to reach a neutral point. That said, once you do use the straw that many times, the more you use it, the better for the environmental balance it becomes, unlike plastic straws, which cannot be reused as much.

Perhaps the best straw solution would involve no use of straws at all, as that involves neither carbon emissions nor consumption of resources. Instead, we could sip our drinks, and companies like McDonald's could alter their products to serve better a no-straw economy.