I thought I would write a small piece about plastic drinking straws as it is a topical subject. Last month it was announced that a pub chain in the UK was getting rid of plastic straws entirely and replacing them. As someone who uses straws to be able to drink independently, the idea of removing straws from all pubs and bars seems quite extreme at first glance. I have read some articles about the plastic straw debate but none even acknowledge that straws can be very useful for people with disabilities. The comments on these articles would suggest that straws are just childish and unnecessary, but for me straws provide a means to drink easily. It is true that some straws are pointless, such as the ones with a 2mm diameter, but others can help a lot.
It is clear that we have a problem with single use plastics and replacing the straws with something more environmentally friendly is an obvious decision, so long as the replacements actually have an impact. There are a number of products, such as coffee cups, that are sold under a guise of being recyclable but are in reality not. I think that it’s as much the responsibility of manufacturers as that of the consumers to make changes to what materials they use. Whilst it is easy to vilify a single product, it may be better to address the current relationship with plastic wholesale to create a cultural shift, which would go further to change our predicament.
I would be totally happy if bars and restaurants changed all straws to reusable paper versions, but people shouldn’t entirely dismiss objects or ideas that could be useful to others out of hand.