A straw ban could hurt the disabled community

In response to “Eliminating the Plastic Straw: Woman gathers support for Northampton ban,” published August 1-7, 2019.

I read the article just now and want to say, while I support reducing plastic waste (the effects it wreaks on our environment and our bodies is catastrophic), I really hope Ms. Shields will put some significant time into hearing the thoughts of disabled people who truly do need to use single-use disposable food cutlery, straws, and food containers. The concerns I have heard mostly come from those with compromised immune systems who simply cannot re-use a straw that needs to be repeatedly cleaned, although I’ve heard from others for whom the flexibility of a bendable plastic straw is the only way they can convey liquids to their mouths.

Hopefully a compromise can be made, maybe involving restaurants having a small supply of single-use plastic straws on hand for disabled customers who ask for them (and signage or other indications that the option is available), or perhaps single-use compostable/bio-degradable cutlery is available. Going out into public spaces is not a thing everyone gets to take for granted, and some disabled already bear quite a burden in preparing to do so, meaning they have to weigh whether or not something like simply going to a restaurant is worth the effort. I’d recommend several people I follow on Twitter who speak quite well about the impact of outright bans of plastic straws on disabled people: I follow a young lady in Maine who uses the handle @CoffeeSpoonie and another who goes by @Keah_Maria. They and their followers can argue their cases better than I can. I want to make clear, I don’t think the idea needs to be — pardon the unintentional pun — thrown out entirely, just modified to make room for those who might not be accommodated or welcomed by the proposal in it’s current form. Compromise is certainly possible, because the causes of preserving our planet and including everyone in public life are both highly imperative.

— Marisa Reichert, Facebook comment

“I started with the idea of the straw ban because straws aren’t something imperative for people to have and there are a lot of alternative solutions that are more sustainable,” said Shields.

In most cases she is not wrong but, as a parent of a disabled son, straws are imperative part of community support. In his younger days in my case and lifelong in others, having access to straws is needed to be able to eat and drink outside the home and be part of society.

— Jason Keith, Facebook comment

But plastic isn’t essential for your son as a straw, is it? Paper straws were common when I was child. Also, having a straw available to you, should you ask, should be the standard rather than using plastic for waste for folks who don’t want or need them.

— Phil Simon, Facebook comment

It’s a MYTH that personal recycling can have a significant impact on the environment. All a straw ban does is hurt people with disabilities and make people angry. We need to talk about capitalism and industrial waste if we actually want to do something for the environment.

— Stacey Cooney, Facebook comment

Don’t forget the ‘B’ in LGBTQ

In response to “Best of V-Spot: My Boyfriend Might Be Gay. Should I Care?” published August 1-7, 2019.

It is now considered cool to support the T in LGBTQ but some of those who cheer non-binary gender are not as accepting of non-binary sexuality. There’s a B in there yo!

— Michael O. Budnick, Facebook comment

Cause and effect

In response to “Between the Lines: White Supremacy in the White House,” published July 18-24, 2019.

There are concentration camps on our border because a Hitler is in the White House. Am I the only one who has noticed?

— Linda Mason, Plainfield