Plastic straw ban a kick in the teeth for disabled people
The announcement of a plastic straw ban in an inner-city Auckland area is a kick in the teeth for disabled people, the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) says.
The plastic straw debate and the effect of banning straws on disabled people who need them to drink independently is widely known. Type “plastic straw debate” into a search engine and dozens of articles discussing this will come up.
“We thought this issue was so widely understood it was shocking to read in the news about the straw ban in central Auckland with no mention of how the area is planning to respond to the needs of disabled people who need a straw to drink independently,” DPA Policy and Relationships Manager Esther Woodbury says.
“There’s been so much in the news about plastic straws and so much about the need for disabled people to be included in this conversation, that to be completely ignored like this means one of two things, either: the voice given to disabled people is so small that these businesses remain ignorant of the issue or; the voice of disabled people is so little valued that it’s seen as okay to ignore them.
“Either way, it’s not okay. It reeks of cynical chasing of the Green dollar, at the expense of disabled people.”
In contrast, Tank Juice Bar are one example of a business that is showing they can be environmentally aware and also inclusive of their disabled customers. They recently announced on Facebook that they’re in the process of moving to cornstarch straws, which are user-friendly as plastic straws but can be composted, noting in their post that straws are a necessity for some customers.
“By finding an environmentally and inclusive solution to straws, Tank Juice Bar have demonstrated that they have paid attention to all of their customers rather than a knee-jerk reaction to a current trend,” Dr Woodbury says. “We would encourage other businesses who are looking to phase out straws to look at this type of environmentally sustainable alternative instead.”