The Last Straw

All the recent discussion over banning straws at restaurants is really starting to stress me out!

The issue that started this push to get rid straws is that they are thought to have a serious effect on the environment including polluting the ocean.

Now, I’m all for clean air and going green to save the earth, but did you know straws are an important part of my life as well as others like me with disabilities. Without a straw, I can’t drink anything independently.

When out at a restaurant, one of the first things I ask the server for after he or she brings me my drink to the table is a straw. It’s an even bigger plus if they have a bendable straw so I don’t have to stretch my neck as if I’m a chicken to reach it.

I heard that some stores like coffee guru Starbucks use paper straws instead of plastic ones. When I was a little girl growing up back in the late 70’s a popular candy that kids loved buying was paper bubble-gum cigarettes. Now, that I think about it, they should not have even been allowed to have these on the market because they were influencing children to smoke. I along with many other children loved them but I was never able to blow the powder sugar out of them because I drooled too much due to my disability. Although, I eventually learned how to control my drooling, many of my friends still cannot. Point being, if you give them a paper straw, it’s going to get all wadded up inside which is going to make it impossible to use.

If the world decides to go to metal straws instead of plastic ones, what about the ones with disabilities who suffer with spasms or have involuntary movements? Can you imagine jumping only to be stuck in the roof of your mouth by a metal straw? I know I’m being very graphic but the banning of straws issue, is real to a lot of people.

Now, I’ve been known to roll with straws. They’re either in my purse or basket. Straws are a huge part of life so I treat them as you would treat your American Express card, “I never leave home without it”.

Over the years there have been many things on the radar posing a negative effect on the environment. Remember, when all cars had to have E Check to make sure they weren’t giving  off a lot of fumes and that went away. Now, it’s straws. Will it ever stop?

Straws are my life. I am sure somehow, this whole ban initiative contradicts the spirit of what the American with Disabilities Act stands for. If I pay with my hard-earned money to eat at a restaurant, then the least they can do is give me a straw to enjoy my drink. If straws are banned what will it be next grab bars in restrooms?

18 comments on “The Last Straw

  1. Beverly on

    Way to go Shari! I get so frustrated when I hear individuals trying to convince others how bad straws are for our environment. How about convincing people to be responsible for their waste?

  2. April on

    This is a subject that I have had personal experience with recently. A couple months ago my husband had major surgery on his spine in the neck area. For three months after surgery he has been required to wear what is called a Miami J Cervical Neck Collar. It’s a hard brace that makes it impossible to drink liquids without using a bendy straw. This recent environmental push to do away with plastic straws came at the exact time we discovered how much we needed them. Under normal circumstances we probably wouldn’t have thought much about the need to keep straws around. We learned very quickly that not only did we need them, but we needed to keep a supply on hand because they aren’t readily supplied by most restaurants as contrary as that seems to popular belief (as least not the bendy straws). Anyway, long story longer, I am all for helping the environment, but we need to take a moment to consider how changes we make affect everyone. You may think it doesn’t affect you, just like last year I would have never foreseen the need for us to be so reliant on bendy straws this summer. You just never know when it may be you or your loved one facing an unexpected need for something so simple as a straw. Thanks Shari for bringing this side of the straw controversy to light.

    • Shari Cooper on

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. Often, people don’t understand some of the simple needs of disability life until they are forced to deal with one themselves. Hope your husband is on the mends and if you need bendy straws, come see me. I have a supply of them.

  3. Melody Mitchell on

    WOW! I must be in the dark. I haven’t heard anything about straw banning. CRAZY thought! Too many people need straws. Imagine my one year old or any little children in a restaurant without those little straw cups. I have an Idea. Let’s take the person with the bright idea to a restaurant and leave him at a table surrounded by little kids with open cups and no straws. The debate would be over! LOL!

  4. Renee Wood on

    What about plastic water bottles or plastic grocery bags, those are far more plentiful than little straws! The impact of these on the environment is far greater than straws. Except that these are conveniences for the non-disabled whereas straws are necessities for many with disabilities to drink anything at all. They will probably make them an “adaptive device” which will cause the price to skyrocket. Somehow I think some business person already thought of this and it’s designed into the scheme of things.

  5. Mary Pfeil on

    I am another person who needs a straw get any liquid in my mouth! Plastic straws are very durable, so one straw can last me the whole day. Believe me, I am a thirsty woman and do a lot of drinking! I have tried bamboo paper straws and find that the end in the liquid collapses after 2 or 3 drinks. Due to this problem, this illustrates the difference in durability between the 2 types of straws. I waste a whole lot less with plastic straws. There are many people with disabilities that cannot avoid biting a paper straw, therefore, experiencing great frustration with just taking a simple drink. Just like Shari , I never leave home without my straws!

  6. Renee' Hines on

    Hi Shari..Your article about straws was very enlighting for me.I never knew how important a straw could be for a person with disabilities..If it really cane down to it..a person with disabilities should be given a choice on if they would like paper or plastic straw..Thank U for enlighting me on how important a straw really is in the life with a personwith disabilities..????

  7. Linda Kay on

    Shari, every time I saw articles on this matter, I thought about you. I am disappointed in the lack of willingness to consider those with disabilities on the part of some individuals. From what I have seen, this ban was initiated without bringing persons with disabilities to the discussion. I would like very much to share your essay on my fb page. Is that okay? 🙂

    • Shari Cooper on

      Thanks Linda and please do share my article on your fb page. Hopefully, the powers that be will get so sick of hearing from those with disabilities about this topic, they will have no choice but to listen and rectify this issue.

  8. Glenda Pate on

    Great Blog Shari Cooper!! Thanks for letting everyone know how important it is for people with disabilities to have access to straws. It was very informative and you such a awesome advocate.


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