Straws are necessary for students with disabilities

By Mary Hart

Recently, the discussion over plastic straws has gained popularity. Companies such as Starbucks have pledged to eliminate plastic straws from their stores, and states such as California have passed new laws banning plastic straws in restaurants. Now, the University and Espresso Royale are joining the movement to replace plastic straws with a more environmentally friendly alternative. It’s no secret that plastic pollution is a serious problem, so the news that companies, government, and our own university are cracking down on single-use plastic may sound like a cause for celebration. Nevertheless, eliminating plastic straws really isn’t the best option for everybody.

As conversation on banning plastic straws has grown, the conversation on how banning plastic straws affects the community with disabilities has too. Many people with disabilities consider straws a necessity for drinking. For example, Karin Hitselberger, a self-identified author with disabilities, discusses in an article for the Washington Post about how not having a straw puts her at risk of spilling and burning herself every time she drinks a hot beverage. In addition, although paper straws or reusable straws sound like sufficient alternatives for reducing plastic use, paper straws become a choking hazard for people who need to take long amounts of time to finish a drink when the straws decompose in liquid, and reusable straws, such as metal straws, put people who are prone to muscle spasms at risk of stabbing themselves.

This is something that needs to be considered when making changes to plastic straw availability on campus. As students, we have enough to worry about between homework, exams and a variety of other things. Students with disabilities shouldn’t also have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to have a drink.

Mary is a sophomore in LAS.

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