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  • [Slurping]

  • Hello! You've been sent this video to explain the disabled point of view on why the straw ban is a bad thing.

  • The person who sent it to you has probably already had this conversation five times today.

  • And they just can't be arsed any more.

  • Which is where I step in.

  • Part of my condition means I have to drink between 8 to 10 litres a day.

  • I drink everything through a straw because my wrists are quite weak and my hands shake,

  • so...

  • Side note: Yes, that is why I have such lovely white teeth *ding*

  • If you're able-bodied or have a disability that doesn't require the use of straws,

  • you're probably a little confused about how talk around a tiny luxury has blown SO out of control.

  • Fun fact: The first targeted sales of bendable straws in 1947 were to hospitals,

  • as the bend means patients can drink in bed;

  • they're sterile; don't disintegrate; and can be used with hot liquids.

  • Now, plastic is seen as cheap, wasteful and harmful to the environment.

  • Yes, I say "plah-stic." I'm very British, OK?

  • These things are all true, but plastic is also an essential part of my health and wellness.

  • We should all be reducing our plastic consumption,

  • but disabled people who use straws aren't just saying, "Screw you!" to the environment,

  • We genuinely want to help the planet, but we can't sacrifice ourselves in the process.

  • The majority of us have taken up reusable straws

  • and it's only in a pinch that we need the disposable ones,

  • but it is a NEED.

  • Yes, it would be better if someone could invent something that functions as well as a bendable plastic straw

  • and has little environmental impact.

  • But, until that happens,

  • we can't just outright ban something people need.

  • For those of you who don't actually know what the straw ban is, though...

  • In 2015, a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up its nose went viral.

  • Campaigns to eliminate straws soon followed.

  • Across the world, various companies and cities have decided that the best way to reduce their plastic

  • is to ban plastic straws.

  • Starbucks plans to faze out plastic straws by 2020;

  • McDonald's will ban plastic straws in its UK and Ireland restaurants.

  • Alaska Airlines will be the first airline to faze out the use of plastic straws,

  • and the entire city of Seattle has banned them.

  • An entire city.

  • Since 8 million tons of plastic flow into the oceans every year,

  • it is very right that we do something about it.

  • But straws are only 0.025% of that.

  • Ian Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California's lower house,

  • has introduced a bill to stop restaurants from offering straws to customers,

  • unless they specifically request one.

  • Under Calderon's law, a waiter who serves a straw that has not been asked for

  • could face up to six month's in prison and a 1,000 dollar fine.

  • Although our ban on plastic straws does come from a wonderful place - concern for our ecosystem -

  • it inadvertently harms those with disabilities.

  • Plastic straws are considered unnecessary items, used by environmentalists as a gateway plastic

  • to engage the public in more of a conversation about environmentalism.

  • But! One person's ecological conversation starter is another person's nutritional lifeline.

  • Going without straws can mean struggling through the physical motion of getting a drink up to one's lips

  • or aspirating on the liquid and choking.

  • For many people who need straws, materials other than plastic just doesn't do the job.

  • You've likely been sent this video because you asked, "Have you considered re-usable alternatives?"

  • Ugh!

  • Ugh, come on now.

  • We've all seen the memes about mansplaining,

  • and this is veering into...able-splaining.

  • That's a thing.

  • So here's why the alternatives don't work for everyone, in handy graph form.

  • Metal: it's an allergy risk, for one thing.

  • Oh, and a terrible injury risk, especially if you have seizures or a very soft palate.

  • I--oh, I just don't wanna think about that.

  • They also aren't positionable, which means they can't be moved and then stay that way.

  • They got hot if you put them in hot liquids.

  • They're hard to sanitize, and the cost can be prohibitive.

  • Also, I don't really want to think about the amount of this plastic coating I have now ingested.

  • Paper! The straw people most commonly recommend:

  • Did you know some people can be allergic to them?

  • They're also a choking hazard, as they fall apart and then can be sucked or breathed in.

  • Again, they're not positionable.

  • They're not safe in hot liquids.

  • Dissolve with prolonged use.

  • So drink up fast!

  • Glass:

  • If you thought metal was an injury risk,

  • do we even need to go into glass?

  • Again, not postionable,

  • although, often, very pretty.

  • Hard to sanitize and can be high cost.

  • Silicone:

  • Again, an allergy risk.

  • Although they are floppy enough to be bent back on themselves,

  • they don't then stay that way.

  • They are hard to sanitize

  • and high cost.

  • Acrylic:

  • Allergy risk, injury risk,

  • not positionable,

  • not hot liquid-safe, hard to sanitize

  • Seriously, I once poisoned myself

  • from the mould inside an acrylic straw.

  • God. That was a week I do not want to re-live.

  • Pasta or rice:

  • Allergy risk!

  • Also, choking hazard, because it does--you know, it's hard, but then it does break.

  • Injury risk, because they can break your teeth.

  • Not positionable, not hot liquid-safe,

  • and then does actually dissolve with prolonged use.

  • Bamboo: Allergy--can you see where I'm going with this?

  • Injury risk. Ouch. Sharp.

  • Not positionable, and high cost.

  • Biodegradable: Allergy risk, allergy risk, allergy risk,

  • ALLERGY RISK.

  • People could literally die.

  • Also a choking hazard since they do then dissolve in hot liquids

  • and after prolonged use.

  • And then single-use straws!

  • [Sound effects as if tumbleweed was blowing by]

  • No danger of aspirating or being injured by them during a seizure,

  • they're very cheap,

  • and you can do this.

  • Side note: all disabled people are different.

  • What works for one will not necessarily work for another.

  • People with autoimmune disorders use their own reusable straws,

  • rather than risk using a single-use one that someone else may have sneezed on.

  • Life -

  • it's complex.

  • There are pros and cons to every type of straw,

  • but the important thing is not to shut down a person

  • when they are trying to speak about their own lived experience.

  • I personally use plastic straws.

  • I put them in the dishwasher and then I reuse them over and over and over again

  • until they get a hole or they grow mould, because that's a thing.

  • I also have this glass straw that I take out and about with me

  • in its cute case

  • It has its own little straw cleaner inside.

  • But, because I need a straw that bends back on itself, since I spend an awful lot of time lying down,

  • my wife Claudia bought me these:

  • silicone straws

  • So they bend back on themselves, which is great

  • when you're on the floor,

  • but they don't then stay that way.

  • They also have a really weird in-mouth feel.

  • But, look, you can tie it in a knot and then put it in your handbag

  • and! they go in the dishwasher.

  • Because I am a very privileged disabled person who has a dishwasher,

  • and an able-bodied wife who can clean things if I ask her to,

  • and I can afford them.

  • A few days ago, I cried because I saw an online poll that phrased the debate as,

  • "Are environmental issues more important than disabled people's needs?"

  • As if that is an OK question to ask.

  • Really sorry to break this to you, and you probably weren't meaning to sound like that at all,

  • but...kind of sounds like eugenics talk.

  • I'm sure you didn't mean to make someone feel like you genuinely believed

  • the world would be a better place if they were dead.

  • So...

  • watch your language next time.

  • 'But why can't straws be request only?'

  • Um...

  • The ban in Seattle comes with an exception for people with disabilities,

  • where restaurants can provide straws

  • if they're needed for medical reasons.

  • Buuut, that's actually just optional.

  • The restaurant can just shrug in your face and say no if they want

  • And even if the restaurant do provide straws for disabled people,

  • that means that the person has to prove their medical need

  • and out themselves as disabled;

  • possibly discuss their upsetting medical condition, while on a night out with friends

  • [Sarcastically] Yay!

  • Oh, and even then, they can still say no.

  • "You just--you just don't look disabled enough!"

  • 'Can't disabled people just bring their own?'

  • This puts the burden of accessibility on an already over-burdened group of people.

  • I can barely remember to take my phone and money when I leave the house

  • and even though I rely on straws, I can't always remember to put them in my bag.

  • My God, I cannot describe the horrid feeling when I am out somewhere

  • and I'm desperate for a drink and then I get my drink and,

  • "Oh, we have no straws."

  • Plus, the reusable straws do have to be sterilized before and after use...