The Controversy Of Plastic Straws / The Monotony Of Progress

8/1/18

Early in July, Seattle banned single-use plastic straws and utensils.  

San Francisco is poised to do the same.

As are many companies, including the Great Wolf Lodge lodging business.

Good, right? 

I thought so. 

Okay, fine, for all intents it is very good. But not for all purposes. (I separated two parts of a common phrase. I love language.) There are some complications involved that not too many people are willing to face. Not too many people even know the real negative impact this could have. I only knew because it was pointed out to me, on Instagram:  

   This post traveled fast like a meme. Multiple users with quite a few followers have posted this, and the slides that follow, including @avengersimscreaming, a fandom/feminism/textpost account. That's where I saw the post.

This post traveled fast like a meme. Multiple users with quite a few followers have posted this, and the slides that follow, including @avengersimscreaming, a fandom/feminism/textpost account. That's where I saw the post.

   Instagram has had a new update where you can share multiple photos in one post. These images were all shared at once.

Instagram has had a new update where you can share multiple photos in one post. These images were all shared at once.

   So this is essentially a chart showing the common plastic straw and known alternatives. It shows that plastic straws, for their chemical make-up and structure, are the only (known) truly safe straw for disabled people.

So this is essentially a chart showing the common plastic straw and known alternatives. It shows that plastic straws, for their chemical make-up and structure, are the only (known) truly safe straw for disabled people.

   Here's someone replying to that image. I had no idea some people could be allergic to straw material. But alright. We can still work with this.

Here's someone replying to that image. I had no idea some people could be allergic to straw material. But alright. We can still work with this.

   Yes, there are  definitely  more harmful things to focus on, but I personally believe that with the environmental issues at least, we should get rid of  all  harmful things. Not just the big harmful things. You'd be surprised how the small harmful things add up. And we have to start somewhere. Not too many people will be willing to start big and work smaller. Motivationally speaking, the opposite works better.

Yes, there are definitely more harmful things to focus on, but I personally believe that with the environmental issues at least, we should get rid of all harmful things. Not just the big harmful things. You'd be surprised how the small harmful things add up. And we have to start somewhere. Not too many people will be willing to start big and work smaller. Motivationally speaking, the opposite works better.

   Listen, Annie, I've researched you since first viewing the Instagram post. You're cool, and it's cool that you're encouraging dialogue about environmental accountability. (I would love to talk to you, as a disabled person who cares a lot about the natural world.) But no need to all caps this conversation we're all having. The decision to ban straws - no one actively thinks, "Hey, it's time to kill and injure a lot of people!" We're all just trying to do what's best for the world. It's just not working out so great. Maybe the U.S. education system failed us.  ❤️  (Click      here      to view Annie's YouTube channel. She's pretty popular, and for good reason.)

Listen, Annie, I've researched you since first viewing the Instagram post. You're cool, and it's cool that you're encouraging dialogue about environmental accountability. (I would love to talk to you, as a disabled person who cares a lot about the natural world.) But no need to all caps this conversation we're all having. The decision to ban straws - no one actively thinks, "Hey, it's time to kill and injure a lot of people!" We're all just trying to do what's best for the world. It's just not working out so great. Maybe the U.S. education system failed us. ❤️ (Click here to view Annie's YouTube channel. She's pretty popular, and for good reason.)

   Are waiters/waitresses/restaurant employees allowed to say that to able-bodied people? Some people do need the extra motivation. And are you implying you don't care about turtles as much as you do people? We've been putting people first for years, look where that got us.

Are waiters/waitresses/restaurant employees allowed to say that to able-bodied people? Some people do need the extra motivation. And are you implying you don't care about turtles as much as you do people? We've been putting people first for years, look where that got us.

   That's a fun answer. *sarcastic* And, I want to be clear, when we (original posters and I) say "disabled people," we don't mean people like me. My disabled situation is not everyone else's disabled situation. I have "mobility issues" - not even that - in my legs (hips and feet included in that). I can't walk that well. My arms, brain, etc. are fine. When we say "disabled people need straws," we mean, people like JJ from  Speechless , one of my favorite shows in the world. I don't "get" the experience of people like him, who have it different than I do - I mean, socially, I  sort of  get it:      https://www.zmkf.me/the-blog/2018/7/15/unique-me-on-the-verge-of-noise      This is something I wrote for my personal blog, about my experience as a wheelchair user, if you want to read.

That's a fun answer. *sarcastic* And, I want to be clear, when we (original posters and I) say "disabled people," we don't mean people like me. My disabled situation is not everyone else's disabled situation. I have "mobility issues" - not even that - in my legs (hips and feet included in that). I can't walk that well. My arms, brain, etc. are fine. When we say "disabled people need straws," we mean, people like JJ from Speechless, one of my favorite shows in the world. I don't "get" the experience of people like him, who have it different than I do - I mean, socially, I sort of get it: https://www.zmkf.me/the-blog/2018/7/15/unique-me-on-the-verge-of-noise This is something I wrote for my personal blog, about my experience as a wheelchair user, if you want to read.

   "You just make our lives harder without offering feasible alternatives." Um, didn't I  just  see a chart filled with alternatives?? Apparently, none of them work for you!! It's getting kind of annoying. You've got to admit it, it's probably very annoying for you, too. But it's not as though we're not trying.

"You just make our lives harder without offering feasible alternatives." Um, didn't I just see a chart filled with alternatives?? Apparently, none of them work for you!! It's getting kind of annoying. You've got to admit it, it's probably very annoying for you, too. But it's not as though we're not trying.

Did you like my peanut gallery-esque commentary? 

As you can tell, I'm very passionate about the environment and wildlife within, even to the point of dissing people. But getting frustrated - or even furious - with people just trying to live won't help. Because that's just meaningless talk. And I suppose that "Do we need straws today, or would we rather save the turtles?" is the wrong question to ask.

The question we all should be asking, is,

"What can we do?"

Getting mad won't help. Talking about an issue and doing nothing won't help. Not holding yourself accountable won't help. On the other hand, becoming overcome with guilt won't help either. Solutions help. That's why they're called, "solutions." Here are some solutions for the plastic problem.

1. Use less plastic in other ways, if you absolutely need plastic straws. According to Vox's https://www.vox.com/2018/6/25/17488336/starbucks-plastic-straw-ban-ocean-pollution, "There are 150 million metric tons of plastics in the ocean. And if we continue this trend, scientists predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. One of the landmark studies of ocean plastic was published in Science in 2015. The researchers found that we generated 275 million metric tons of plastic waste in one year, of which 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons get into the oceans." We are Operation: OceanFixer, we care about the ocean. We consider this a problem. If you want to use less plastic but need your straws plastic-y, say no to excess packaging, or even bring your own plates/containers if you feel up to the task. Anything you can do to cut back on plastic, please do. We should sacrifice some things, just not "I could get injured or die" things. Do some research, and find out how you can take care of yourself and the world at the same time.

2. Hey, manufacturers! Make better straws! So far, looking back up at the helpful chart up there, the silicone straw is most successful but still harmful. The silicone's problems are "not positionable," and “costly." Part of the problem with this whole thing is, yes, everyone needs to be held accountable, but manufacturers always have more to do with the product design than the consumers. So, builders and inventors, let's take the silicone straw, and build off of that, or,

a) create a better plastic, somehow, so the material doesn't change, but chemical makeup and biodegrading process does, for the better.

b) find a way to destroy our current plastic. Oh wait, we did: https://www.sciencealert.com/plastic-eating-caterpillars-could-help-tackle-our-huge-waste-problemhttps://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-accidentally-engineered-mutant-enzyme-eats-through-plastic-pet-petase-pollution This, ladies and gents and nonbinary friends, is truly great. Get ready for inventions and landfill re-designs based off of this.

3. Go bigger. Move beyond plastic, if you have to. The plastic problem affects the sea and land, so tackle bigger issues, like overfishing or unlawful land animal hunting (I don't agree with hunting at all, personally, but there we have it). If there is an issue you care about, go for it. Just remember what (who?) you're fighting for.

. . .

With this, I leave you. 

I'm always here to help.

- ZMKF, disabled founder of Operation: OceanFixer. 💙