Straw Bans Fail To Consider People Of All Abilities

| July 23, 2018

Recently, everyone’s favorite “woke” left-wing coffee chain announced that they plan to eliminate plastic straws by 2020. Starbucks rolled out a design for strawless lids in some stores in 2016, but they plan to make them the norm in all locations in 2020. This follows an effort from towns and cities, including Starbucks’ home city of Seattle, to ban plastic straws to prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean. At both Starbucks and in the cities and towns banning the plastic straws, paper and biodegradable options are available. This policy was met with swift backlash from disability rights groups because there are some people with disabilities who need to use straws to gain even basic nourishment, and the most popular options for alternatives to plastic straws have their own flaws that would render them unusable for some people. Paper straws are not temperature controlled and fall apart in liquid. Biodegradable straws crack when too much pressure is applied, which is fine for most people, but could become a huge problem for people with compromised jaw control. Metal straws are not temperature controlled or flexible. Starbucks responded to the backlash by saying that straws would be available on request, but they did not specify what kind of straws.

Recently, I went to the beach with my family. The beach only had paper or biodegradable straws, in compliance with the plastic straw ban in the municipality. This was soon after I read about the potential problems with the straw ban, so I was extra careful to investigate them. The first time we had drinks, my younger brother got a paper straw. It irritated him to no end that the straw was crumbling as he was trying to drink. I thought that if it is difficult for Brendan to use, it must be impossible for someone with limited neck or mouth movement. When I got a drink, I got a biodegradable straw that I did not know was biodegradable. I have a habit of biting the straw when I drink. Sure enough, it broke, so I got a new one and made a concerted effort to avoid biting it. I succeeded at this, but my jaw control is fine. I made an effort to avoid biting the straw, but some people cannot do that. I saw in person the problems with two of the proposed alternatives to the plastic straws. I had read about this, but now I know for a fact that banning plastic straws will not work for some people with disabilities.