Frosty Starbucks cups with their emblematic green straws poking out are a symbol of tween independence, a fashion statement being made en masse in malls and trendy thoroughfares across the U.S. that says, “look at me, I grew up!”
But like the dreaded plastic grocery bag, plastic straws are well-known to cause harm to marine life such as fish and sea turtles, and add to the towers of plastic that crowd toward our cities from our landfills and clog our oceans.
Like most people, I was ecstatic when Starbucks announced last week that they would be eliminating plastic straws. Some progressive U.S. cities like Seattle and Berkeley and have banned them already. However, many public policy issues have two sides. Disabled activists and their advocates have spoken out against plastic straw bans, asserting that they unfairly discriminate against the disabled, especially those with hindered motor skills for whom drinking from a cup without a straw is not an option. They argue that it isn’t fair that able-bodied people aren’t inconvenienced by the ban, but the disabled will be expected to carry reusable straws with them everywhere they go.
I appreciate the concerns of the disabled but I think people in general have grown too accustomed to lives of convenience at the expense of the planet. Caring for the environment requires that we ALL make some sacrifices – from giving up the shiny green adolescent accessory of choice, to making sure you don’t leave the house without a metal or silicone straw in your pocket.