Straws – what do they mean to you?

I wouldn’t call myself an Environmentalist. I pick up/take home litter, recycle to a point, I repair, reuse, refuse if I can. I’m just a citizen trying not to be a dick about the impact me and my family have on the world. The recent awareness that has reached the mainstream about the use of plastics is particularly frightening. I mean microbeads man! Who came up with those? Good grief!!

The latest polluting and downright dangerous item we are all starting to wake up to are plastic straws. The celebs have backed the call for banning the straws, much as they did for microbeads. Microbeads served no essential purpose. And for those of you that don’t need them, neither do straws. But here’s the thing, straws do! There is an entire community of people who actually need straws.

Oscar can only just about drink out of an open cup. Under duress. And then mostly not even then. He’s six, but he’s also autistic. I don’t know what it is about an open cup that makes him refuse it. And I do mean refuse it. No matter how thirsty he might be. It might be the coordination needed to drink successfully or it might be the sensation of having liquid against his face or the feeling of having that much liquid rush into his mouth all at once. It could just as simply be that through a straw is how he knows how to drink and teaching him any different will be a long and arduous process. I can’t really pin it down.

But my son’s issues with drinking are his and not to be judged. If my six year old still has a sippy cup at home, meant for one year olds, so what? And if he needs to use a straw in order to allow him to access hydration when out and about, then that’s fine and dandy with me. And while I do support any initiative to make our seas healthier, I am incensed at the way something countless people NEED, has been demonised in the press recently.

Raise awareness, sure. Change your habits, absolutely. I myself have just purchased a set of metal reusable straws to take with us when we’re out and about. I’m not going to be being a dick about this. But I am privileged enough to be able to plan ahead like this and to have the resources to obtain what I need. Removing something people might actually rely on, with little or no warning, and without providing a substitute is thoughtless and ableist.

I’m glad that the general public are waking up to the environmental impact of their lives. But I urge you to consider how your new found fervour might actually affect other people’s lives, those not like yours, before jumping on the next particular bandwagon.

Metal straws and case