Drinking straws are assistive device that help many people with disabilities drink safely, but there has been a push in recent years to ban single use straws. Plastic single use straws are one of the top forms of waste in our oceans. They pollute the earth and harm the ocean’s wildlife. When thinking about the impact straws have on the environment, it is a no brainer why there is a push to ban straws. Yet, what about the impact the straw ban would have on the disability community?
How Plastic Straws Help People with Disabilities
Many people with mobility limitations are not able to lift a cup high enough to drink from it. For others, straws can prevent choking. As someone who is a quadriplegic, I do not drink a single drink without a straw. If I were to drink without a straw, there is 90% chance that the drink will end up all over me instead of in my mouth. I will go without a beverage before I attempt to drink that beverage without a straw.
There have been several alternatives given to replace plastic single use straws but they come with their accessibility concerns. Reusable straws can be sustainable in some situations but not all. They need to be cleaned after every use, which may not be feasible for the disabled person to do in every situation. Depending on the material the straw is made out of, there can be health risks. Glass straws can break and metal or acrylic straws can keep drinks too warm, causing a burning hazard. Other single use materials such as paper and bamboo disintegrate when wet, increasing the risk of choking.
Where Do We Go from Here
It is important that that we take care of our environment but not at the expense of disabled peoples lives. Plastic single-use straws are an accessibility need for people with disabilities. Let the straws stay while we find other ways to take care our Earth. Why not start with the six pack rings that are known to endanger penguins and other wildlife?
About Isabella Bullock: Isabella, or Izzie for short, is an employment specialist for the Center of Independent Living. She is an iced coffee enthusiast who enjoys getting lost in a good book. Click here to learn more about Isabella.
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