An Open Letter To Congress Regarding Plastic Straws

I wouldn’t normally put things like this here, but I felt it that it is important enough to put here now. This is a direct excerpt from my English class blog. Help me get this issue seen:

Dear Congress,

I assume you’ve heard of the movement and actions to completely ban plastic straws. As a disabled advocate for our rights, I strongly oppose these ideas. While you’ve been idle, or allowing this to happen, disabled people are dying. Recently, a story broke of a 60-year-old woman with mobility issues, who took a metal straw through her eyeball and died. Since disabilities are a minority, with only 1 in every 5 people having a disability, you probably just don’t care. That’s not okay, and it needs to change. It’s not up to you to micromanage and dictate what a person with “special needs” requires, as you have no idea what it is like to live with them on a daily basis. Disabled people require straws for a plethora of reasons, and below, you’ll see a handy-dandy little chart detailing why plastic/single-use straws are the best to be used by disabled people.

With limited, restricted, or banned access to these plastic straws, you’re effectively taking away some people’s livelihoods. Only 4% of total oceanic waste is plastic straws. It makes virtually no sense that these are the items being targeted right now. If it were up to me, I would target the amazingly high number of plastic cups, bags, and takeout containers, and leave plastic straws alone. Plastic straws are mainstream, and that’s a big part of the problem. You can literally walk into a Dollar General and get 100 straws for $1. Now, that’s great for the accessibility aspect, but it also leaves the door wide open for non-disabled people to get a pack of straws. I suggest we market straws as an “accessibility tool” and reduce the consumption of plastic straws by able-bodied people if you’re really that concerned about the 4% of the waste they cause.

The shame and prejudice afflicted to disabled people (also known as ableism) has skyrocketed due to plastic straws. For example, in a thread on Twitter, a disabled person is denied a straw and had to make a scene, embarrass herself, and was required to call the manager to get a straw, just to be told “people like that aren’t worth it just give them the da[rn] straw”, all because she didn’t “look disabled enough”/”looked fine when [she] came in”. This is unacceptable. A person may have an invisible illness that requires them to get a straw, and you don’t get to judge, just by looks if someone is disabled. Heck, you shouldn’t even be able to make a guess about whether someone is disabled or not.

To conclude, lawmakers must do more to protect the rights/accessibility of disabled people and their accessibility needs. That includes tackling plastic straw bans and fighting ableism with us. I really hope this issue receives its’ well-deserved traction, and action is taken to help us, not go against us because we’re citizens too. Thank you.

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