Tuesday 11 January 2022

Why the plastic straw ban is still a big deal

It's been a long time since the straw ban came into place but this issue still affects me so much.

Plastic straws are an essential aid for me; without them I'd struggle to drink and the vast majority of straw alternatives are not suitable: injury risk, allergies, not positionable, too expense, hygiene etc - see the chart below. I have floppy weak wrists so I can's tip a cup towards me; I also have to use lidded cups because of my involuntary movements. When I'm in hospital I hate being given the beaker cups with a spout lid.

Everyone I know who has a need for plastic straws always re-uses them; they are never 'single use'. When the ban came in I stocked up on straws so I have plenty to keep me going for quite a long time. I do have some silicon straws that can be spilt down and reconnected which (a) makes they great to clean but also (b) these are hypoallergenic silicone but the issue with these straws are that I can't position them to bend. I have to spend a lot of time laid down so I've perfected my ability to drink in this position and bendy plastic straws are the only option in this situation.

One thing I don't get is that if I say ordered a frappachino it comes in a plastic cup with a plastic lid, or if I buy a Diet Coke it's in a plastic bottle (which I still need a straw for) or if I order coffee and have a fruit pot the fruit pot comes in a plastic pot and I may also be given a plastic fork and if my drink is to-go it has a plastic lid. Yet whenever I ask for a straw it's paper or at the café at my hospital they provide hard biodegradable plastic straws that (a) melt in hot liquids, (b) if I jerk I jab the roof of my mouth and both the paper and plastic straw aren't bendable. I do try to carry around some straws but sometimes I forget to bring some with me or I don't plan to get a drink. Also where is the recycling points for my plastic bottle or fruit pot or paper cup and straw?!

So as you can see the straw ban though old now is still a big deal for me and probably many other disabled people.