Disability rights don’t have to clash with environmental responsibility

Strong yet flexible, clean, disposable, available and cheap… plastic straws are better than any natural alternative for many disabled people. Credit: Shutterstock

Picture this. There is a tool that you rely on to drink and using it is important. There it is ready. You are offered a drink wherever you go, and you can buy it cheaply in many shops. Well, imagine this tool is taken away.

It’s illegal, it’s hard to find and potentially expensive. Your ability to rely on this tool for your safety just became difficult.

This is it the situation faced by disabled people who rely on plastic straws to drink, under The new laws issued by the federal government on single use plastics.

You may have heard of this before. In 2018, provincial and territorial governments agreed to this Canada’s Broad Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.

Now, four years later, with the care changed from the disease, the rules are on single-use plastics leaving the disabled which they depend on plastic straw that is not necessary to ignore the weather conditions. There is a compromise to be reached.

The case for the environment

The environmental case against single-use plastics is well-known, and one that has scientific and public support. Our roads are littered with single-use plastics, and our landfills are littered with plastic that will never break down. Our attitudes must change – this is not certain.

While deciding how much change should occur, the federal government focused on banning”the big six“—the most common plastic items that pollute our environment such as grocery bags, cutlery and straws.

In the small step of understanding the needs of the disabled, there are exceptions. There will be flexible plastic straws for sale in packs of 20 or more, however only if they are hidden from view and requested by the customer. But they will not be found in restaurants or anywhere where drinks are sold.

For some disabled people, yes A flexible plastic straw is alive. Drinking coffee requires a combination of muscles to work together seamlessly, from lifting and placing the cup to your mouth to controlling the muscles needed to swallow.

For people with any type of neuromuscular condition, this complex movement is impossible and can lead to complications such as aspiration, when fluid enters the lungs causing pneumonia, or dehydration, when the body lose the water he needs to work.

For disabled people, these problems can lead to death.


You may be asking why a flexible plastic straw is needed. What about paper or silicon? People with disabilities are resilient and resourceful. They did try all the different types and know that flexible plastic straw is for them –strong but flexible, clean, disposable, available and cheap.

If yes the disabled he tells you something works for them, believe them.

There are two different types of disability in the workplace. The single plastic law is an example of medical model of disability in work– a product that is deeply rooted in our societal beliefs, seeing disability as a human problem, so the extra steps someone should take to participate in robots is their problem, their responsibility.

As a disabled writer Alice Wong said: “I live in a world that was never built for me, and every little opportunity to participate is precious and difficult. Banning plastic straws is a step backwards, not a step forward.”

In contrast, the social approach to disability believes that disability is a societal problem. He believes that we need to remove barriers to allow disabled people to participate in society.

In 2019, Canada’s Affordable Care Act became law, and it was built on these barrier-removal principles. He spoke about disabled people being involved in the formulation of laws and policies, and the need to be able to participate without barriers in society – this is missing from the rules of single-use plastics.

We have created unnecessary divisions – the environment and the needs of the disabled –create eco-ableism. Trust is the way forward, and it already exists in our single-use plastic systems.

For example, large plastic bottles for drinks such as coffee and pop are not banned, as there is no reliable source. The environmental costs of keeping these plastics are balanced with the need to safely transport beverages. There are compromises in getting plastic straws too.

City of Vancouver has a constitution since 2020 which has been improved in consultation with disabled people who use straws to drink. Allows flexible plastic straws in restaurants, including a logo design to tell people with disabilities that these straws are available.

And similar examples can be found all over North America. However, Canada may be the first jurisdiction to introduce such strict laws on the sale of straw.

Placement plastic strawdurable equipment for life, subject to the same restrictions for sale as tobacco products it’s too harsh, and hurts the dignity and inclusion of people with disabilities. A compromise is needed between the inclusion of all Canadians and our environmental responsibility.

California to limit the use of plastic straws in restaurants

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hint: Disability rights don’t clash with environmental responsibility (2022, July 25) Retrieved 25 July 2022 from environment.html

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