Healthy Living

Why Banning Drinking Straws Upsets Muscular Dystrophy Patients

Why Banning Drinking Straws Upsets Muscular Dystrophy Patients

Most people feel completely helpless before they have their morning coffee to help them kickstart their day. Daniel Gilbert is no different, except that instead of taking his coffee with cream or sugar, he takes his coffee with a straw. The 25-year-old has carried these plastic straws with him for most of his life. Gilbert’s straws had to be the correct length and have the capacity to endure super hot temperatures, so he can’t rely on some places to have the right straws for him.  

Makeup models suggest using a straw to drink their liquids in order to avoid smearing their made-up lips, but Gilbert doesn’t regularly use straws to keep his chapstick intact. Gilbert, an Owensboro, Kentucky resident, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy . Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a type of genetic disorder that forces the muscles to progressively dissolve. As his muscles lost their strength and mass, it became more difficult for him to hold and lift simple things, like cups and glasses. Because of this, he found a solution in straws and began to carry them around when entering his twenties.

The decision to think like a scout and always be prepared was out of necessity more than convenience. One night, Daniel went out with some friends to a local bar. Unfortunately, this bar did not have the bendable straws that Daniel used, instead they only had stirrers.

“I had to manage, but it took a lot of effort,” Gilbert said. “It was really exhausting.”           

Daniel Gilbert is not alone. He and countless other people with disabilities are justifiably concerned that the growing trend to save the environment by banning plastic straws will actually worsen their qualities of life. Many people with disabilities will be unable to comfortably go to restaurants, airplanes, and other areas of public entertainment.

Starbucks recently promised that by the year 2020, the organization will completely phase out any plastic straws used in their establishments. This news was released just over a week after the city of Seattle (and the birthplace of Starbucks), completely banned all plastic straws and plastic cutlery from every restaurant, bar, and food truck in the entire city.

Following Starbucks’ lead, American Airlines reported the news that they will also be forgoing the use of plastic straws from their in-flight beverage service. The plan should be completely unrolled by November, when all American Airlines flights will be serving their drinks with more eco-friendly stir sticks. Alaska Airlines plans to follow suit.

Read on to find out just how this ban affects muscular dystrophy patients.