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Policy Idea

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    Plastic Straws: Environmental Sustainability and Disability Inclusion Do Not Contradict One Another (Policy Lapse)

      Soon SAUWS, as part of their supply with Starbucks, will be switching to paper-based straws and will no longer supply plastic straws. We have seen the anti-plastic straws campaign that has gripped the third sector: we’re given the impression that if we don’t ban their use entirely, then the planet is doomed. However, what has been missed from this narrative is that many disabled people need a bendy plastic straw in order to independently consume fluids. Because of the exclusionary nature of anti-plastic straw campaigns abhorrent comments have been levied at disabled students around the UK when they are raising concerns of an all-out ban with plastic straws in their students’ unions. As part of this SAUWS should encourage its services to reduce the use of single-use plastics but not ban plastic straws from their services entirely. Instead student voice/council should recommend to the SAUWS board of trustees to make a small fund available to allow for plastic straws to be made available alongside paper-based straws so students who have motor or sensory based needs can continue to be able to drink beverages independently.

      Why you think it is important

      This policy is important as it promotes both environmental sustainability with accessibility and the right to independent living. Consumer-focused sustainability campaigns, like 'The Last Straw' can ignore the injustice of removing essential aids, discriminating against disabled people because it’s more convenient than tackling the main causes of pollution. When the richest 10% produce over 50% of global emissions, and just 100 companies producing 71% of global carbon emissions, it isn’t disabled people that are responsible for the scale of environmental destruction we’ve seen the last century. In fact, it’s often disabled people who are on the frontlines of climate disasters, being disproportionately impacted by natural hazards.

      Is there anything else you think we should know?

      Source: Submitted by Beth Douglas

      I have read the guidance on what makes a good policy on the student council page

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