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The ban on plastic straws is great … unless you have a disability


Well-intentioned legislation might not be the solution for everyone.

The movement to rid our society of plastic straws has been well on its way for a while now, and, recently, Seattle joined the club of cities who have enshrined the ban into law.

Businesses who violate the new ban on plastic straws can now expect to pay $250 fine, and those who have been fighting to rid our world of plastic may be quick to count this as a win. But disability rights activists are giving them rightful pause.

Life without plastic straws might be important way for the able-bodied to help the environment — since they can use a variety of alternatives like paper, metal, and reusable straws. For those with physical disabilities, however, the adjustment is not so simple.

In response to the ban, many have taken to social media to voice their concern for the lack of alternatives for those with physical disabilities. According to The Seattle Times, the law does allow that “flexible plastic straws can be provided to customers who need a straw because of medical reasons,” however, many have still voiced concern over the position disabled people may be in if they have to defend the necessity of a plastic straw every time they eat in public, especially due to the lack of education surrounding the issue.

The practical consequences of the ban for people with physical disabilities remains to be seen, but it’s clear that communication and intersectionality among activist movements is necessary if we want change that benefits both people and the planet.

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