There just isn’t enough information out there on options for sustainable kids cups, aka non plastic kids cups. True sustainability, in my mind, doesn’t contain plastic, as plastic is made with and can leak harmful chemicals, and it is not as easily recycled or compostable as other materials. I have tried and used many different types cups for my kids, and I wanted to compile a list of our favorite cups that are eco-friendly but also budget-friendly. So, from glass cups to stainless steel kids cups, here is a review of our favorite sustainable cups for kids!
1. Bamboo cups
When going to landfill, bamboo cups will biodegrade more quickly than other sustainable materials. Plus, bamboo is quickly grown and is an abundant resource. These factors technically makes bamboo cups the best sustainable kids cup. When they are disposed of they will quickly go back into the earth to nourish and not harm, but this is also a downside since bamboo needs to be cared for carefully so it doesn’t start biodegrading in your sink.
Bamboo cups like these are good for liquids and for older kids. There aren’t many bamboo cups I would recommend for toddlers, as toddlers tend to enjoy throwing their cups (or is it just mine?) and would likely break the bamboo — not that it’s happened in our house before… 😉 Plus, they don’t sell many bamboo cups with lids (although you can definitely buy some cups with silicone tops like these, and use lids on the bamboo cups!). However, here are some bamboo cups with one top we HAVE NOT tried before, so while I can’t personally recommend them, they are an option.
There are also wide bamboo cups like these that are great for snacks. We wouldn’t recommend them for liquids for littles though, as they can be more easily spilled and harder to hold because of their girth. However, they are so cute!
Bamboo can be easily cracked when thrown (as I mentioned my toddler likes to do), so bamboo cups are ones that need careful maintenance. It is also not recommended to put bamboo in the dishwasher as it can wear it much more easily and eventually crack it. Unless using them for older kids or snacks, bamboo is not functionally my favorite.
2. Glass cups
Glass is another eco-friendly, harmful-chemical-free material that is great for food and beverages. Understandably, your first reaction might be, “You want me to give my children glass?!” Hear me out! There are some great glass kids cups that are safe, like these ones that are almost fully covered by a silicone sleeve. They also come with bamboo lids and straws, for less spilling! Pro tip: For toddlers who like to take the straw out and make a mess, wrap a rubber band around the bottom half of the straw and place the straw in the cup, then put the top on. This keeps them from pulling out the straw and making a mess. 🙂 A downside to these ones: The bottom of the bamboo straw is flat and my kids get frustrated because while they are sucking out of it, it gets stuck to the bottom of the cup.
As discussed above, bamboo is a material that disintegrates faster than other materials, and also requires more intentional care (ex. can’t go in the dishwasher or soak in water). Thus, this cup with bamboo straws and lids is a great choice for the quickest biodegradable parts, but is not our number one choice for price and ease. These glass cups with silicone sleeves, lids, and straws are our personal favorites, especially since they also come with silicone tops that don’t have straw holes so we can pack them for outings without worrying about spills, and bring the straws and other tops along.
For older kids and adults, here are some glass cups with silicone sleeves! We adults like to use these as wine glasses, personally. 😉
3. Stainless steel cups
Stainless steel cups take the lead in sturdiness. If you drop them they might eventually dent, but they have thus far been the longest-lasting eco-friendly cups we have. Stainless steel is a hard and durable material that is really easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher (win!).
For toddlers, these smaller Brava Ware stainless steel cups with silicone lids are wonderful, as the silicone sippy top is soft on baby teeth and the cup size is perfect for little hands. The cups alone are also a good size for snacks, and for using without the lids as they learn to drink from regular cups.
There are also stainless steel kids cups with silicone grips and lids, which are better for older children — I wouldn’t recommend these for toddlers as the top is much more likely to leak. These 8oz ones are a step above the Brava Wear ones for school-age kids, as they hold more in volume and are shaped like their first coffee cup. These are also the best price for the most bang for your buck, although if you want different colors you can spend a few dollars more and get these. If you want straws for smoothies or just out of preference, these 12oz cups with lids and straws are the way to go.
A caution about the Brava Wear silicone lids: When your toddler sticks their finger in the small vent hole repeatedly, it can eventually tear and make them more prone to spilling. Also, even the toddler ones are not spill-proof (as few kid cups are). They do keep most of the liquid in when knocked over, but for best results keep these cups in an upright position. However, the silicone lids make for really easy washing! Since the material is flexible you can turn the lid inside-out to get every nook and cranny with a sponge (or in the dishwasher). With regular washing, they don’t build up mold or start to stink like many plastic ones do.
For older kids and adults, bigger cups like these 20oz stainless steel cups are a great option for everyday use since they don’t contain toxic chemicals, they hold a lot of liqiud, and they are very durable.
I honestly can’t think if a reason why I wouldn’t recommend stainless steel cups!
Purchasing the best sustainable cup for your kids and family really depends on your intent — what do you need them for? Drinks? Snacks? Smoothies? Travel? To replace the current sippy cup? Each eco-friendly material has different qualities and characteristics, as well as different manufacturing processes, and being familiar with how they each differ from typical plastic kids’ cups can be helpful to how you choose and care for them.
Bamboo tend to be the most sustainable since they are made from an abundant material and quickly biodegradable, but because of that they can easily crack and wear out. Glass cups don’t give off any harmful chemicals and are easy to care for, but can crack on a hard surface when dropped at the right angle even with silicone sleeves on. Plus, they can also be heavy for small hands. Stainless steel cups are our family’s #1 choice for eco-friendly cups since we like the sturdiness, ease of cleaning and care, choices of lids, and ease of use for toddlers. We do thoroughly enjoy the glass and bamboo cups we have purchased, and understand why others might choose those regularly, but we plan to stick with stainless steel cups and silicone tops.
What kids of sustainable kids cups does your family use? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments below! 🙂