Having watched Blue Planet 2 and more recently Drowning in Plastic just like everyone else it’s made me think carefully about the impact of plastic on the environment. I have been out and bought a bamboo reusable takeaway coffee cup as I worked out that I was using about 15 plus throw away cups a week, thinking incorrectly they could be recycled. I have also started to make sure that I use my bags for life and not throw away plastic bags and I have stopped using plastic straws after reading about all the campaigns to get them banned. Being environmentally conscious it could be assumed that I agree with banning plastic straws but actually in reality I don’t. Why? All of those calling for them to be banned haven’t thought about the number of disabled people that rely on these straws.   Many disabled people are unable to hold a cup or drink from it and need a straw. Yes, there are alternatives but let’s be honest they are rubbish. Anyone who’s tried to drink out of paper straw will know they disintegrate quickly and are soon rendered useless. Then there’s the metal ones but these are heat conductors and can for some people cause injuries.

Now all it takes to resolve this situation is for bars, restaurants cafes etc to use a little common sense and keep a box of plastic straws under the counter for those who need them.   But the issue is that retailers just aren’t thinking about disabled people. Unfortunately, this isn’t anything new, access needs are often an afterthought. But what really gets my blood boiling is when my disabled friends are telling me that because they are requesting plastic straws that they are been vilified and made to feel that they are being unreasonable and doing something wrong. Come off it, let’s be honest here, if only those who really needed them had plastic straws and the rest of us didn’t the impact on the environment would still be massively reduced.   There are numerous other ways we should be reducing the use of plastics and these aren’t all down to the individual consumers, retailers and factories themselves need to take responsibility for looking at plastic packaging and ways in which this can be reduced or modified so that there is less impact on our planet.

About The Author

Claire has worked with Deaf children for a number of years, initially as an Educational Communicator and then as a teacher. She recently moved into working in the community to support Deaf adults as a Community Support Worker. She is chairperson of Bedfordshire Deaf Children’s Society and secretary for Luton Deaf Football Club. She has also provided Deaf Awareness training to various organisations. Claire has her level 2 British Sign Language Certificate although she has been signing from a young age as she is deaf herself. Initially Claire was a hearing aid user but after losing her residual hearing several years ago she has had a Cochlear Implant. Claire is often accompanied to work by her hearing dog Ivy.

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