Straws vs. the Disabled

That’s Potato. She was born without eyes and I love her. Get it? Cause Potatoes have those dimples called “eyes” but they can’t see? Good stuff.

It’s not either/or.

I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me about this topic and while I find it important to acknowledge that everyone has a right to sit at the table and engage in the conversation, I’m not sure we’re all talking about the same thing. I want to point out a couple things about the “straw bans” that have been popping up around the U.S.:

  • so far Seattle is the only U.S. city to ban plastic straws
  • Starbucks is phasing plastic straws out by 2020
  • there is no ban on the production of plastic straws. at all.

Those 3 bullet points are facts. Now I’m going to share my opinion based on those facts.

A straw ban will not save our marine life (that’s probably a fact too). But look how many of you are talking about it now. Look how many people are talking about how this will affect the disabled population. Life is about uphill battles, it doesn’t get easier and every win we celebrate will be met with infinitely more questions than answers. No one is claiming that a ban on plastic straws is more important than the comfort of our fellow human. I can’t think of anyone in my network of zero-wasters that would win a ban on straws and then stop there. This isn’t about straws vs. the disabled. It’s just about us.

There are 2 reasons I choose to use plastic in my life

  1. Health and medical reasons
  2. Legal and safety reasons

Now I’m about to say something that might genuinely offend people so if you have a short fuse, please skip ahead.

If you want to help disabled people, don’t attack a ban on straws. Focus on the next step. Focus on getting legislation in place that will require restaurants to provide plastic straws for customers who need them. If you want to help the disabled, get off your butt and volunteer, get off your butt and vote, and get off your butt and fight for equal access to healthcare. If you want to help people then you want to help the environment. And if you want to help the environment then you want to help people. It’s not either/or. It’s just each of us doing what we can. And most of us can forgo a plastic straw.

So if you’re truly concerned about what a ban on plastic straws will mean for disabled people, then start discussing ways to navigate that issue in a productive manner. We don’t need to keep throwing potential solutions out the window because they alienate groups of people. We need to start including those people in the conversation. We need to invite them to the table and ask them in which ways their needs can be addressed.

Be a part of the solution, get creative, get involved and help each other out.



All of that being said: I am happy that everyone is talking about these potential bans. I am happy that people have been reaching out to share in the excitement or to inquire further. I am happy that big businesses are going out on a limb to try and make a difference in their waste production. But if I could be completely candid for a minute… ya’ll need to calm down about this straw ban. See the straw ban as the small step that it is and keep fighting the good fight. Keep reminding your roommates to grab their reusable bags for the grocery store. Keep picking up trash when you walk your dog. Keep fighting for equal access for disabled persons. Keep volunteering, keep donating. Keep leading by example because you can. And if you can’t lead by example then tell the world why and I promise we will fight for you.

Disabled people need clean air, clean water, clean food and a clean environment too. This is about all of us and we owe it to each other to fight like mad.


9 Comments on “Straws vs. the Disabled

  1. People love to complain and say that it is someone elses problem to fix. Though I will say that mostly people don’t know where to start and feel that it is all too big and how can they really affect any change. Think globally and act locally, if we all did this then change would come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Think globally, act locally. That is one heck of a powerful sentiment. May just become my tagline….
      I think that’s a great point, that people don’t really know where to start or feel overwhelmed by the notion. Baby steps. For example, I just moved and will be attending my first town hall meeting at the end of the month! Ignorance is bliss, knowledge is power, and understanding is oxygen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! Thank you for calling people to action and calling for solutions rather than continuing with a status quo that serves no one. It’s everyone’s planet and being inclusive is not stopping straw bans, it’s including people with disabilities in these environmental solutions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And let’s be honest… getting disabled persons access to straws is one of the more reasonable legislative wins on the docket! We can do it and we can be grateful that people expressed their grievances before it became a catastrophic issue.


  3. I don’t know you but I love you already.

    Also, your cat is awesome.

    And so is this post. I didn’t even realize that was an argument for plastic straws. I am learning a lot of things from you, so thanks!


    • lol maybe I just run in a confrontational circle! It’s much easier to say no to things than navigate their endless possibilities!
      Thank you!!
      ps. Potato is so crazy impressive, coolest blind cat there ever was


      • I literally don’t have ANY friends on the zero waste bandwagon [yet] so I am probably just keeping my mouth shut about it to avoid the confrontation 😬 gotta be more bold, like you

        Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, I started my blog about it and then let people know that I was gonna cute plastics out for the month of june and I invited people to follow me on my journey. I was genuinely surprised that people took me up on the offer. And I’v made some great connections on WordPress with other zero wasters but it turns out, so many of my friends irl were interested and invested in the zero waste lifestyle. Maybe everyone feels a little self conscious about doing something against the social grain, so to speak.

        Liked by 1 person

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