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Plastic Straw Ban x Disability Rights

In 2017, environmental group The Lonely Whale started an online campaign where social media users challenged their followers to stop using plastic straws by posting an image with a caption alongside a pledge to #stopsucking. Although straws make up less than 1% of plastic waste, straws were seen as a “gateway plastic” that could help raise environmental awareness among individuals. This campaign led to an international movement to ban plastic straws, which has been embraced by Starbucks, McDonalds, American Airlines, and select cities in the United States and across the globe. In this 2018 video from American liberal media company and website Now This, disability rights activist Sharon Shapiro-Lacks argues that social movements need to be more inclusive. She says that when she is denied a plastic straw, she feels unwanted as a customer and discriminated against. She also points out that the media often goes to other marginalized communities with general issue topics, but not to the disability community. “We’re carved out from the social fabric,” she says. Finally, she asks that the disability community be included in all issues because “Everything that impacts…your life, impacts our life, but maybe in a unique way.”

discussion

How does this video address and intertwine two social issues?

In what two ways does Sharon Shapiro-Lacks feel stigmatized by the plastic straw ban? Specifically, think about how she feels as a customer and how she feels as a member of the disability community?

How can plastic straw bans be made more inclusive, according to Shapiro-Lacks?

How do environmental issues have an impact on other marginalized communities? Are there other movements or issues that could benefit from a conversation about inclusivity?