Calling A Halt on The Disposable Plastic Straws Ban Because Disabled People Rely On Them

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For many disabled people drinking through a plastic straw is a need, not a choice, as often they can not drink by tipping the drink to their mouths or physically manage to lift the cup to their mouths. Some disabled people use a drinking straw because it makes them more independent and without needing so much support from others. Whether it’s for cold or hot drinks for many disabled people and often includes older people as well, drinking through a plastic straw is vital for them to get their daily intake of fluids.

Being physically disabled myself, because I was born with Cerebral Palsy, and as a result I have very limited use of all four limbs, I use a disposable plastic straw for my drinks as I find it easier because I can’t physically give myself a drink and by using a straw I have complete control of the rate of fluid entering my mouth.

Even though there’s a few alternative drinking straws on the market like paper and reusable ones, are not practical and are unsuitable for some disabled people to use.

1) This is because some disabled people can’t help but chew or their mouth goes into involuntary spasm and their mouth clamps down on the straw. This makes the paper straws unsuitable to have a drink from as the paper gets soggy.
2) There is a high risk of small pieces of the paper straw shredding and causing a person to choke or inhale it.
3) The amount of secretions in some disabled people’s mouths is excessive, as they may be unable to swallow properly, the straw goes soggy super quickly.
4) Paper straws are really unsuitable for hot drinks.

As for reusable straws,
5) Some people can’t help but grind their teeth on them and have jaw spasms which will leave permanent teeth indentations on the reusable straws.
6) There are the stainless steel reusable straw but there is a serious risk of it getting stuck in a person’s mouth during a spasm or a person might have difficulty letting go of the straw, causing permanent damage to their mouth, particularly if the person that is assisting them with their drink is unable to remove the straw.
7) With reusable straws they need to be washed out thoroughly after each use as there’s a great risk of food poisoning especially when the straws are being used in milk products.

I totally understand we all have got to protect our environment and protect our wildlife and for our future generations but we could do other stuff like cutting down on plastic food packages and toy packaging and other unnecessary plastic . I know we have already started with plastic shopping bags not being so readily available and costing 5p but people are often seen still buying them. We need to be doing more in cutting what is not so vital to us in the way of plastic waste and not banning a vital aid which helps some disabled people to drink. I further understand that straws are ending up in the sea and getting stuck in the fish’s throat. One of my big questions is why is this happening? I put all my straws in with my recycling expecting them to be recycled or incinerated. Why aren’t Councils doing this?

If restaurants, cafés, bars and shops are all going to be banning disposable plastic straws which I have already witnessed over the past few weeks, you now have to request them from a member of staff, causing a lot disabled people difficulty and unnecessary worry when they are out.

The purchase of ones own straws is going to add more expense onto disabled people as there is a need to be bulk buying straws, resulting in even more expense to some disabled consumers where most severely disabled people will be on welfare support and/or on a low income.

In today’s society disabled people are facing more and more barriers and this is the latest one in a long list of fighting for what most people take for granted, when in today’s world we should all be able to live in a barrier free society, where everywhere and everything is accessible to everyone and catering for people’s differences.

I’m not saying don’t ban disposable plastic straws eventually but consider how it will affect people first and develop a suitable, safe and tried and tested replacement disposable straw.

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