I somewhat decided that I wasn’t going to talk about the topic of plastic straws on this blog. But today I think I have to. I am not the only one talking about it this week. This morning Chronically Unimaginable also wrote a blog on it. The reason for multiple discussions this week is because I awoke to the news that gave me a heavy heart. The UK is officially banning plastic straws. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea that plastic is damaging the earth and animals. I mean I’m a vegetarian. I love animals and the earth.
The issue is, disabled people need plastic straws.
Just two days ago, I couldn’t stand or sit up at all. That meant I couldn’t drink water and became dehydrated. However, plastic straws saved me. It meant that I could hold the water and position the straw to manipulate the water into my mouth without having to harm myself. I am not the only one who needs straws in order to survive, millions of disabled people do.
Now, I get what you’re thinking, Bethany, there are a hundred alternatives! You’re right, there are, however, none are appropriate for the disabled. Instead of me just saying they don’t work and leaving it at that, I am going to look at each straw type.
For straws to be disabled friendly it needs to contain certain characteristics. These are, positionable, safe for high temperatures, cheap to buy, and a low injury risk. Okay, let’s discuss the straw alternatives.
They have a large injury risk. Often disabled people have painful spasms in their hands and/or mouth. For me, that means I can hurt my hand quite badly hitting the straw, as well as my jaw. It can make me bleed, and scar. On top of that, you can’t position it. When you can’t sit up, the water will have to be tilted enough where it spills everywhere. On top of that, they are expensive. One would need at least three straws a day. (One for water, one for tea/coffee, and for other drinks like orange juice). Cleaning the straws are extremely difficult, especially with those like me who have fine motor control issues and spasms. Therefore, one will need many straws because most of us cannot afford carers to come in every day. These are so not practical.
Out of all the options, these ones aren’t too bad. However, they have an injury risk, are extremely expensive and also not positionable. Once again, offering the same issues as metal straws.
Glass Straws: These are so high for injury risk. This is both due to the past mentioned spasms and because of the breakable factor. If I fell over with a glass straw, I would most likely cut myself and struggle to clean up all of the mess. Again, it’s also really expensive. We spend so much money on all of our other needs that we can’t afford more. I had to take a third of my daily dose for years because I couldn’t afford the full dose until finally stopped taking them. The last thing I need is more things to buy that are expensive. On top of all of that, the straws aren’t temperature safe. How am I meant to drink my copious amounts of tea?!
This is the first one so far that has no injury risk. Saying that they aren’t positionable and are expensive.
These once again have an injury risk. They are also expensive and not positionable.
These are a choking hazard, they aren’t positionable nor are they temperature safe. Plus, let’s be honest, paper straws turn into mush way too fast. How do people drink fast enough? On the plus side, they are affordable.
This is also a choking hazard and injury risk. It is also, not positionable or temperature safe.
These are affordable, positionable, have no injury risk or choking hazard. Plus, I can have my tea with them!
I’m not denying that plastic straws don’t have issues or that the alternatives don’t have good points. All I’m saying is that for people with disabilities they are necessary, at least for now. I know that in the UK plastic straws are available on request in cafes. But what about in the supermarkets? I sit in a wheelchair and have been declined plastic straws because “it isn’t necessary for me.” How are we supposed to combat those who don’t believe that we are disabled enough?
I know that it’s complicated and difficult. I want to save the animals and planet so much, but there are better ways. Cut out eating fish, the plastic from them are killing way more turtles. Buy fruit that isn’t packaged in plastic. There are so many other options but please listen to us about straws. Let’s stop the constant attack.
Please be kind to one another and yourself! See you next week.