There has been a lot of talk recently about banning plastic straws. But, as a disabled person, personally, I’m not concerned.
These straws take a heavy toll on the environment and are dangerous for marine animals. However, many disabled people have expressed concern at the prospect of banning plastic straws. People like Tanni Grey Thompson, Michaela Hollywood, and many other disabled people have pointed out that lots of disabled people depend on plastic straws to be able to drink.
I use straws to drink too, as I find it easier. I can drink straight from a cup without using a straw if I have to, but it increases the risk of me choking, or getting covered in the drink, or both. So I find it easier to use a straw. A number of my friends are worried about how they will cope if plastic straws are banned as they need them to drink.
It’s an understandable concern. But for me personally I am not worried about the prospect of plastic straws disappearing.
There are alternatives, but granted, they are not suitable for everyone.
Alternatives to plastic straws
I’ve tried paper straws but I have found that they get soggy very quickly, lose their shape, and can disintegrate. They also don’t bend very well which makes them inconvenient.
I bought some stainless steel straws recently from Amazon and I find that they work very well for me. They came in a fabric bag and there was some straight ones and some bent. I find them just as easy to use as the normal plastic straws. But I have to remember not to bite down on them which I have a habit of doing with straws. But for some people like those with Parkinson’s disease they may be dangerous. People could get hurt by them.
I’ve looked online for other types of eco-friendly straws and there seem to be a number of different types available.
Biodegradable straws like these seem to work just like plastic straws, and they have some good reviews on Amazon. Unfortunately, they are not suitable for drinks over 40°C, but for cold drinks they should be fine. There are also bamboo straws, glass straws, and straws made from bioplastic.
Most of the time I don’t even need to use a straw though because I use a Hydrant to drink. For me this is by far the easiest way to drink throughout the day.
The Hydrant consists of a large (about 2 L) plastic bottle with a long tube that you can clip on your clothes. There is a valve on the end of the tube that you bite and suck the drink out of. The bottle hangs on the back of my chair so I can take it wherever I go.
It gives me a lot of independence because I can drink whenever I want without needing help. It is also reusable so using the Hydrant I have no need for plastic straws really. I can just get someone to tip a drink into the hydrant bottle and I can drink it myself.
But sometimes when I go to pubs and restaurants I will drink out of glass using a straw. So on these occasions plastic straws would be useful but I can cope with alternatives. Maybe instead of completely banning plastic straws pubs could keep some behind the bar and out of sight. If people need a straw they can ask for them. Hopefully, this will still decrease the number of people using straws but still have them available for the people that really need to use them.
I would recommend anyone who needs a straw to drink to consider buying a Hydrant. It really is an easy way to be able to independently stay hydrated. Also, if you don’t want to buy a large bottle you can buy a small handheld version. Check out the products on their website: http://www.hydrateforhealth.co.uk/
Overall, I would support a ban on plastic straws. After all we need to do something to cut down on the amount of plastic waste in the oceans. But I do think that more research needs to be done into creating eco-friendly alternatives for plastic products such as straws. These alternatives need to have the same properties that make plastic so useful but just without the negative environmental impact. I have no doubt that it can and will be done though.