The plastic straw first appeared on the market in the 1950s. It was revolutionary for the restaurant industry that was used to offering paper straws. Paper straws often fell apart, causing clients to request several during a meal, and this was an expense that restaurant owners were willing to eliminate by switching to plastic.
Other straws were available. These straws were made from rubber or metal and were hard to clean. These straws often led to harm because they retained too much heat for hot beverages. This was especially true for people with disabilities who relied on straws to consume their drinks.
The plastic straw was a blessing for those with disabilities, especially the “bendy” straws that allowed you to keep your drink upright but bend the straw to drink. No one thought very much about these straws for decades. That is until now. Now, the plastic straw has become the target for environmentalists.
Environmental Issues and Plastic Straws
It all started with a YouTube video of a sea turtle that has a plastic straw in its nostril. Horrifying as that was, the environmentalists saw this as their rallying call to outlaw plastic straws. In a knee jerk reaction to this video, theme parks, restaurants, and entire cities began to ban plastic straws. Places like Seattle has made it against the law to give out plastic straws at any type of business establishment.
However, there have been no provisions made for those who rely on these simple tools for drinking. Many people with disabilities cannot just gulp out of a glass. They need these straws to help them drink and stay hydrated. Having a straw can mean the difference between being able to drink independently or relying on help from another.
The first reaction for everyone of why this question is posed is that people with disabilities should just bring a reusable straw. While this is a logical solution, people with disabilities are also only human, and human beings forget things when they leave the house.
Protecting the environment is important. There is no denying that cause. However, people are just as important, and all people should be afforded the same type of considerations when they leave their home. If cities or states are going to ban plastic straws, provisions should be made that these businesses can have some on hand to offer someone in need should they forget their straws.
The fight for the plastic straw may seem like something that is not important because its use is not critical to many people. But to those who need a straw to drink, having the right laws in place is crucial.