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Disabled TikToker Perfectly Demonstrates Why Reusable Straws Don't Always Work for Disabled People

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TikTok may be a fun place to find dog videos and sea shanties, but it’s also being used to educate on an issue important to people with disabilities and chronic illness. Two TikTokers with the handle @actuallyautistickatie and @mousecalledted teamed up for a video that has gone viral demonstrating why different types of reusable straws can cause problems drinking.

The video begins with @actuallyautistickatie explaining that some people need single-use plastic straws for mobility and other reasons. TikToker @mousecalledted then appears, sharing that they are one of those people. “I need straws for a variety of complicated reasons,” they said, but single-use straws are hard to get where they live due to a city ordinance.

They then went on to showcase several different kinds of reusable straws, from metal to silicone, sharing why they don’t work for them. Two – glass and paper straws – they don’t even own anymore because they simply break or dissolve. A metal straw is the one they use the most, because it is bent in the shape they need, although they hurt their teeth and mouth on it “all the time,” they said. The video has over 199,000 likes and more than 2,200 comments.

@mousecalledted#stitch w @actuallyautistickatie  i think the audio is out of sync? also i forgot to mention the two i can’t suck out of are silicone #chronicillness♬ original sound – teddy

Plastic straw bans started going into effect around the nation several years ago. Starbucks phased out their use of plastic straws in 2020 and large cities began instituting ordinances against them. But disability advocates have fought for recognition of their needs amid the push to be environmentally conscious. Reusable straws are often inflexible or hard to suck through, something that is vitally important to people with mobility, sensitivity or jaw control issues.

“Also, what if you decide on the spur of the moment to go have a drink with friends after work but forgot your reusable straw that day?” Lawrence Carter-Long, communications director for the National Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund told NPR. “[That] doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity — something nondisabled folks get to largely take for granted.”

Mighty contributor Naomi also noted that she is often allergic to dyes used in paper straws or stabs the roof of her mouth with inflexible reusable straws. “Disabled people are getting a lot of backlash about their need for bendy plastic straws, and this usually comes from non-disabled people who don’t understand our need for them and how they are essential to be able to simply drink.”

Hydration is a basic life function and one we all deserve to be able to access. In saving the earth it’s time to consider the needs and safety of all its inhabitants. “Quit blaming disabled people for killing the environment,” @mousecalledted concluded their video.

@mousecalledtedThe brand of the silicone is Senneny & the single use are Repurpose! shirt from @shopsuperrad  🙂 ##straws♬ original sound – teddy

Photo by SWZLE on Unsplash

Originally published: February 15, 2021
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