National Post (Latest Edition)
Straw and order
The worldwide movement to ban single-use plastics is picking up momentum as a growing number of bars and restaurants have pledged to #StopSucking plastic straws. In November 2019, Vancouver will become the first Canadian city to prohibit the disposable drinking implement. Meanwhile, cities such as Delhi, India and Seattle, Wash. have already committed and New York
City is considering it, too.
Minister Theresa May has vowed to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 and is encouraging other Commonwealth nations to join suit. As CNN reports, the European Union recently put forward a plan that would eradicate 10 single-use plastic products including straws, stir sticks and cutlery. The singleuse plastic items included in the proposed ban currently comprise 70 per cent of the garbage polluting EU waters and beaches.
And Europe is not alone: the world’s oceans are littered with plastic, which poses a great threat to marine life. Recent research by Dutch non-profit Ocean Cleanup found that roughly 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic are adrift in a single expanse of the Pacific Ocean alone. At three times the size of continental France, the researchers have dubbed the area the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
While an outright ban on singleuse plastics is likely to have a positive effect on the environment, advocates argue that it would be detrimental to people with disabilities, many of which consider plastic straws essential to leading an independent life.
“I’m hoping a sensible compromise could be implemented where the default is to not provide straws,” Jane Dyson, executive director of Disability Alliance B.C., told Star Metro, “but if a person with disability ask for straws, they could be provided with one.” For people with disabilities, having to supply their own straws is both inconvenient and prohibitively expensive, inews.co.uk reports. “As we move to ridding our oceans, beaches and parks of unnecessary single-use plastics, disabled people shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat by large corporations,” Jamie Szymkowiak, co-founder of Scottish advocacy group One in Five, wrote in a blog post for Greenpeace.
Alternatives to plastic straws – bamboo, compostable, glass, paper or metal – “are not always suitable and could even prove dangerous,” the BBC reports. In the U.K., advocates including One in Five are pushing for viable alternatives to be in place before plastic straws are outlawed.
“The anti-plastic straw debate has enraged me because it has been one-sided. No-one has consulted disabled people,” Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds told the BBC.
“A significant number of us rely on the humble plastic straw to be able to drink a glass of water, wine or a cup of coffee. It’s a fundamental human right to be able to have a drink and to be able to drink it as and when you need to drink it, and to do it independently.”