From Malibu to London, cities around the world are banning the use of plastic straws in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic garbage that piles up on our beaches and swirls around in our oceans. This is good news for the environment, but could pose hardships for people with disabilities like quadriplegia and cerebral palsy who rely on straws in order to enjoy their drinks.
“I think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the plastic problem,” said Diana Lofflin, the founder of Strawfree.org, an activist organization based in San Diego, to the New York Times. “Giving up plastic straws is a small step, and an easy thing for people to get started on. From there, we can move on to larger projects.”
It’s not just cities embracing the ban, as Scotland plans to be straw-free by 2019 and Taiwan by 2020. A growing list of restaurants aren’t waiting for laws, but are voluntarily withholding plastic straws. To see which establishments no longer offer straws in your area, visit Thelastplasticstraw.org.
Straws are necessary for many people with limited hand function or who have difficulty swallowing, and this rush to eliminate straws is creating access problems. “The anti-plastic straw debate has enraged me because it has been one-sided,” said the United Kingdom’s Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who has spina bifida, to the BBC. “No one has consulted disabled people. A significant number of us rely on the humble plastic straw to be able to drink a glass of water, wine or a cup of coffee.”
With that in mind, we are consulting you. How will the movement to ban plastic straws affect you? Will you change your straw usage, or have you already changed it? If you’ve changed it, what are you using instead?