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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

It’s Just a Straw, What’s The Big Deal

What’s This Straw Craze All About

We live in a world that is constantly changing. We are always looking for ways to improve and protect our planet. This is great, until we forget about a large percentage of the population. I’m sure you are familiar with the current discussion of straws that has hit social media. If not, please allow me to give you a brief explanation. There is a large group of people moving to ban straws due to their beliefs that they are more harmful to our environment then beneficial for their intended use.  This is no small movement. Many companies and cities committing to ban single use straws.  

Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels, Disney, Seaworld, American Airlines, Royal Caribbean are a few companies that are moving forward with plans to pass a straw ban. Many cities are getting on board as well. New York City, Miami Beach, Portland, Seattle and many cities in California including San Francisco have joined the movement against plastic straws. In California a bill was actually proposed to make it illegal for restaurants to give plastic straws. 

Please Don’t Forget About Us

There are approximately 325.7 million people in the United States. Out of those approximately 2.7 million suffer from a Spondyloarthritis related disease. This is not the only potentially disabling disease out there. Mental and physical disabilities of all types exist. We are asking that you please don’t forget about us as you work to improve the world. What do I mean by this? For many of us, straws are a necessity. One might think the answer is clear, with production of reusable straws. However, this isn’t always the answer. 

For those of us suffering from a Spondyloarthritis diseases, we have a compromised immune system. Many of us take an immunosuppressant to manage our disease. This means our already strained system is that much more susceptible to germs. Why does this matter, because studies show that a reusable straw container can hold an average of 25 colony forming units per square centimeter on the straw. That’s just 2 units less than a toilet seat! Our health can’t take that kind of risk. This is far less then slide top or squeezable containers, but still not the answer.

It’s Not All About The Medical Concern

Having a disease like in my case, Ankylosing Spondylitis can bring on many other challenges than just a suppressed immune system. I know a lot of people with AS, some of them have complete fusion of the spine. Imagine if your head was permanently stuck in a downward looking position. Try to drink something from a cup WITHOUT a straw, how did it work out? You couldn’t actually drink from the cup without moving your head could you? This is life for some people. The only way they can drink is with a straw.

Many people with a disabling disease face a financial hardship. Purchasing a reusable straw isn’t an option because they can’t even afford to make rent or buy their medication every month. It’s not as easy as just buying one straw either. You need a specific type of brush to clean it, and a way to transport it while keeping it sterile. That comes out to more money than most of us can spend. The suitable options can range from $10-$30. It doesn’t seem like much until you realize that one medication can cost over $6000. 

Company Verses Individual Replacement 

Who is going to provide the replacement option? It’s still not simple. Companies won’t provide a replacement because that wouldn’t be cost effective. We would still run the risk of unsanitary straws being provided. Let’s face it, not everyone washes their hands when and how they should. Could you imagine the level of risk we would be at if a server didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom and then touched the reusable straw being placed in our drink? 

Say the companies do offer a replacement. This will come at the cost of price increases. Then nobody is happy and we still can’t afford the option offered to us. People will argue if you can’t afford a replacement straw, then you shouldn’t be spending money on the extra things to begin with. What about drinking at home? We still have to provide our bodies with nourishment even if it’s never at a restaurant or other location that bans straws. Complete cities are joining in on the no straws agenda. How will we drink if we can’t even purchase the one item that makes that possible for us? 

We Deserve The Best Quality Of Life

Just like everything else I have discussed, many things contribute to the impact a straw ban has on our quality of life. Brain Fog is a real thing, and a constant struggle many of us face. We can’t always remember to grab a reusable straw every time we go out the door. We can’t always carry a bag to place the straw in, and they definitely won’t fit in our pocket. Many of us are on our own. No help to remind us, or offer to carry things for us. We deserve to live our life to the fullest we can. Without burden from others who want to take away something that is so beneficial for us. 

Did you know that straws are not even in the top five category of litter? Straws make up 3% of the plastic found in oceans. Seems a bit ridiculous to have cities making it illegal to use straws now doesn’t? In cities like Santa Barbara each straw handed out would be an individual crime. Making it possible for someone to get more time than your average felon. All this just for handing out an item that makes it possible for many to drink anything at all. 

Stand Up For Us, Stand Up For Straws

Please join me in fighting to protect our quality of life. Make disabilities matter in the eyes of the world. Stop making decisions without considering the impact they have on others. Eliminating straws won’t make the world a better place. Ensuring you don’t forget about us will. 



The United States Census 
Spondylitis Association of America 

Get Green Now 


  1. Don't forget that some of us have issues cleaning our reusable straws even with the special brushes leaving us at risk.