Impact of The Plastic Straw Ban on Persons with Disabilities


The ban on plastic straws has been put on overdrive in the recent times due to the negative effects they are having on the environment and, in particular, marine life. for most able-bodied persons, the plastic straw ban is beneficial and a good move to conserve the environment. However, environmentalists have failed to consider the impact of the ban on persons with disabilities. Straws are important for the persons with disabilities, as they assist the ones unable to lift their own cups or unable to sip drinks due to their physical conditions. An outright ban on plastic straws will result in putting the persons with disabilities at a disadvantage and that is not desirable.

References and Summaries

Ho, Vivian. “‘People Need Them’: The Trouble With The Movement To Ban Plastic Straws.” the Guardian. N.p., 2018. Web. 11 Apr. 2019.

This article by Ho reveals the unintended consequences of the move to ban plastic straws in the state of California. She states that the coffee and tea shops that primarily depended on plastic straws have to scramble in search of alternatives that happen to cost more. At the same time, the manufacturers of decompostable straws are unable to keep up with the growing demand. This strain is pushing the cost of the straws even higher. People with disabilities relying on straws to consume their beverages are faced with an additional obstacle to dining in public. When coming up with environmentally friendly policies, the group of persons with disabilities is rarely consulted or considered. Majority of people do not personally need straws and they inevitably neglect the fact that there are people that need the straws for survival. For the disabled persons, the straws are an accessibility tool that will be made unavailable or more expensive by the implementation of the plastic straw ban.

Smith, S. E. “Banning Straws Might Be A Win For Environmentalists. But It Ignores Us Disabled People..” Vox. N.p., 2018. Web. 11 Apr. 2019.

Smith expresses the effects of plastic straw ban on persons with disabilities from a first person’s point of view. She feels that the progressives advocating for the ban of straws do not consider the lives of persons with disabilities as worth living. Since the campaign against single use straws started, many beverage companies such as Starbucks and Hyatt have started to drop the straws from their establishments. Persons with disabilities such as those with nerve damage are often unable to lift drinks to their mouths and have to depend on straws. The alternative decomposable straws often disintegrate or melt when inserted in hot beverages while reusable straws are hard to maintain and sterilize over a long period.

Wong, Alice. “Banning Plastic Straws Is A Huge Burden On Disabled People.” Eater. N.p., 2018. Web. 11 Apr. 2019.

Wong lives with a neuromuscular disorder that makes it impossible for her to lift objects such as beverage containers. She also uses a wheelchair for mobility. In this article, she gives a clear picture of what she has to go through to get her drinks and the sheer amount of assistance she needs to get it done. The drink has to have a lid and a straw to suck on. she is concerned about the ban on plastic straws, as they are the ones she primarily uses to sip her drinks. The decomposable ones either melt or disintegrate when immersed in hot beverages, hence, not useful. Wong appeals to have the needs of persons with disabilities considered before implementing the ban on plastic straws.

Class Connections

The fundamental areas that the topic on straw ban touches on include accessibility and assistive technology. The straws are an innovation that enables persons having disabilities that restrain them from lifting beverages to access them without external physical help. The straws are an assistive technology that gives persons with disabilities the capacity to access nutrition.


I used to think that straws are just luxury items that people can live without. I never considered it an assistive tool for the persons with disabilities. Going through the articles in the references has changed my thinking. I am now persuaded to think that straws were initially designed to assist people with disabilities with their daily nutrition.


Straws are not just a nuisance to the environment. They are innovative tools used by persons with disabilities to access their daily nutrition. The debate on the ban on the plastic straws has revealed alternatives in the market are not viable replacements. They do not have the qualities possessed by plastic straws. Instead of an absolute ban on plastic straws, the authorities should consider regulating the use and disposal of the straws in the community of persons with disabilities.