Companies Announce Plastic Straw Ban — Turns Out, It May Alienate People With Disabilities

Plastic straw waste is a huge problem, but for some people, plastic straws are the only option when taking a drink.

Following a Seattle citywide ban on plastic straws, companies such as Starbucks and American Airlines announced that they would also get rid of their plastic straws, gaining enormous support through the hashtag #StopSucking.

Yet many who have disabilities are calling out those who are requesting a full ban and questioning why no one thought to consider their side:

Some are calling the ban “ableist”:

Lawrence Carter-Long, the communications director for the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, explained another issue with the ban during an interview with NPR.

“Also, what if you decide on the spur of the moment to go have a drink with friends after work but forgot your reusable straw that day?” Carter-Long said. “That doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity — something nondisabled folks get to largely take for granted.”

Additionally, a recent report from Reason revealed that the new lids that will be used at companies like Starbucks contain more plastic than the original straw-and-lid combination. Starbucks released a statement saying that the new lids are able to be recycled, whereas the old straws are not.

A few companies told Time that they will keep some plastic straws on hand for customers who need them, but this has not been advertised or brought to the forefront of the issue.

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