I hate paper straws

There are often mainstream everyday products which can assist various people with impairments with specific needs. Deliveroo and online shopping, as well as banking, are perfect examples of this as technology has assisted in the inclusion of people with impairments.

While these solutions are likely to stay for a long time and keep improving, some solutions come in and out of mainstream fashion, where there is no regard for how they assist various people with impairments. My first personal experience of this was Velcro shoes.

Due to my hand control and general movement, Velcro shoes are easier to put on by myself and allows me to be more independent as it is impossible for me to tie up laces. However, the availability of Velcro shoes in adult sizes in mainstream shops over the years has varied widely without any logic, but that is fashion.

When Velcro aHhre out of fashion my only option would have been to have gone to a specialist provider, thus paying the dreaded ‘disability premium’, the extra amount people with impairments have to pay because it is a ‘special’ solution. Nowadays, I wear mainstream slip-on shoes, and since I now only use a wheelchair when I go out, they have lasted many years, more than when I was walking.

Currently, there is a much more significant concern, which is the end of plastic straws in preference to paper straws in restaurants and other places in a lame effort to ‘save the environment’. The idea is not just a fashion that has spread across the hospitality industry but a commitment by the government to ban plastic straws except for medical purposes. This could mean people with impairments requiring plastic straws would literally need a license to purchase them.

The problem is the current design of paper straws is awful as the ‘mouthpiece’ quickly becomes squashed as the straw becomes a soggy mess which reminds me of the one time I had a puff on a cigarette on my 19th birthday! When straws are the only solution for drinking for many people with impairments, we can see how there is a policy conflict between accessibility and protecting the environment.

One way to resolve this is to improve the design and durability of paper straws, and I do not know anyone who likes them, impaired or not, but this will take time. In the short term, people with impairments will need to bring their own plastic straws they have purchased while stocks last. I have already pre-empted the situation by buying 1000s of plastic straws to last me the rest of my life.

I do already bring straws with me when I go out for hot and cold drinks I have in my special cups. It is for iced beverages at McDonald’s, Starbucks and so on that using the straws provided was useful, and paper straws have harmed my enjoyment of the drinks.

How plastic straws has become a massive part of the war against climate changes bemuses me and along with the middle-class protests demanding the ridiculous with no evidence, means people like myself are going to be put off the issue, especially when the impact on people with impairments and others is not considered.


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