Sometimes you can't win, no matter what. [Environment vs disabled access in straws.]

Recently I’ve been kind of annoyed at the propensity for everyone out there to bitch and moan about everything under the sun. If there’s something someone doesn’t like, they’re griping about it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the letters to the editor, etc…

And sometimes you (the generic “you”) can’t win, unless you jump through hoops.

So a bunch of companies have recently decided to discontinue using plastic straws due to the environmental impact of the straws. A good move, right?

Well apparently disabled people are up in arms about this because only plastic straws are the right mix of characteristics for them to use effectively. Which I get, but where I draw the line is when the disability advocacy groups are crying foul because this is somehow a crisis of access for the disabled, who apparently can’t be expected to bring their own straws.

That’s absurd. While I’m all for reasonable access accommodations - hell, I’d like to see shorter bathroom facilities for children made more common, I don’t think it’s restaurants’, coffee shops’ and bars’ problems to make special accommodations in terms of straws for that tiny percentage of disabled customers who come in and can’t use anything but a plastic straw and refuse to bring their own. My gut feeling is that if you need a special version of something the restaurant already provides in some fashion, like a paper straw, then that’s your own problem and responsibility, disabled or not.

Am I off base here? It seems to me that companies are damned if they do and damned if they don’t on this thing, and so are governments who may try and ban the things, unless they come up with some sort of tailored and convoluted set of exceptions for this situation.

FWIW, I believe many of the places discontinuing straws will still have them available upon request, it’s just the default is no longer to give you one automatically.
You can also get reusable (metal, collapsible) straws.

But, yes, whiny people are given a very large audience on the internet. Especially when people that love recreational outrage join in.

I think bringing it to people’s attention that there is a segment of the population that might legitimately need access to an item that may be on the road to being banned is important. If there is a movement afoot to actually ban the items, then saying that people can just bring their own doesn’t quite work. And, of course, that would make asking for it not a solution either.

I don’t know much about the issue, so I won’t say if their needs or fears are overblown. I do know that the needs of people with disabilities are often ignored, and rather than try to figure out ways to accommodate, many people often just say it’s the person’s own problem. I don’t want to live in a world where we just shrug away information and say it’s not our problem if someone else has needs.

No one is banning them, they’re not (at least that I’ve seen) going to be illegal. Some restaurants, and surely more will follow, aren’t going to hand them out with your drink. You’ll still be able to ask for them (Starbucks is switching to a paper straw in those cases) or, as stated, you can bring your own.
If you cannot drink from a cup without a straw it doesn’t seem like a terrible idea to have a couple on hand when you leave the house.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, you can buy reusable straws. If straws were to be made illegal, you’d still be able to have reusable ones.

Nope, Seattle has banned them for some businesses. Not that everyone is following the law, yet.

That’s only for plastic straws and only for food service places that hand them out. Paper straws are still fine. And, again, you can still bring in your own plastic (or reusable) ones.

The article explicitly said that paper straws are a problem. And bans are an option on the table. If there is an eventual global ban, people won’t be able to bring their own. Let’s have that conversation now.

While it may end up that people with certain disabilities will not be accommodated, I think it’s worthwhile having the conversation about what such social movement or banning would mean for them. We already do a lot that basically says that people who need accommodations are SOL, but that should never be the default position.

The article only says that paper straws dissolve or can be bitten through. How is that a problem? Just get a new one.

I trust people who have disabilities to know whether a product is problematic. I do not have a disability, so I will not attempt to tell them what is or isn’t problematic for them.

I’m not telling them either. I’m only stating what was said in the article. The dissolvability of a paper straw does not seem to be a problem limited to those with disabilities.

I agree completely. People are dramatic over everything. If you’re satisfying one person, you’re making another angry. It’s like nobody has time for anything real anymore, except to complain and make it known to the world.

So should we continue to use (according to that article) 500 million plastic straws each day because (according to that article) certain groups of disable people that rely on them, may leave theirs at home.

There’s a middle ground between no one gets any straws, period, and as a country we use 500 million per day. Personally, I think it’s going to end up somewhere in the neighborhood of straws aren’t handed out automatically, but you can have one if you ask. That’ll cut down straw usage drastically, I think.

OTOH, if straws are made illegal (for argument’s sake), a lot of people are going to switch over to bottled water and bottled soda since those are easier, less messy and less open (think, insects) than a glass or cup.

Regarding paper straws being bitten through or dissolving. ISTM, if there’s a move in the direction of paper straws, it won’t take long before that’s figured out. As of right now paper straws are mainly for looks. Keep in mind, coffee is served in paper cups without dissolving just fine and I don’t see any reason why they can’t be made thicker so you don’t bite through them.
One last thing, I have no idea why straws are what they’re going after right now. Why not water bottles or plastic bags 6 pack rings. Until very recently, I had no idea plastic straws presented any kind of an issue.

I did not suggest that. I said in moving forward, we should pay attention to the concerns raised by people with disabilities and see if there is a way to accommodate their needs without simply shrugging and saying it’s their problem.

A history of the drinking straw will be useful for this discussion:

On many issues it is simply not reasonable to expect the 99% to cater to the 1%.

But the thing is we have 500 million straws per day on one hand, and on the other, we have a relatively tiny number of disabled people who in the final analysis are griping about having to bring their own reusable straws or plastic straws from home, because the restaurants won’t bend over backward to accommodate them exactly.

That was my point- there’s no winning for the restaraunts- they either contribute to the plastic straw issue, or they rile up the disabled for not making things easy for them.

I think we should be trying very hard to make things easier for people with disabilities whenever we can. I don’t see anything in the article in the OP that makes me think that there is no chance of a solution that meets the needs of people with disabilities. Nor do I feel that people with disabilities asking for an accommodation turns an issue into an automatic losing proposition for restaurants, nor that there would actually be a problem with accommodating them.

It’s not obvious nothing that can be done. It might be true, but one article does not establish that. I trust people with disabilities to know what’s problematic and I expect everyone to try to take those issues into account when making policy.

I generally want to be 100% with wonky on this issue, and I’ve been reading a lot about it.

I agree that the needs of the disabled are often ignored/forgotten. But I also am generally distrusting and skeptical of the argument that there is no solution to a problem but the status quo. It’s ironic to me that so many of my left-leaning (as am I) compatriots have adopted this conservative perspective on the issue.

Somehow straw development, use, and distribution has managed to serve the needs of the disabled (that monolithic group) perfectly and completely by accident, and any changes are completely unacceptable and obviously going to lead to the end times.

Bottom line: I trust people to know what is problematic for themselves, but I also trust that people hate uninvited change. I don’t trust people to always be able to differentiate between changes that are unreasonable and changes that they are emotionally resistant to.

Say what now? That’s 1.5 straws a day per person. I know a lot of people eat at fast food a lot. But an average of 1.5 times a day?

You forgot to add in cocaine users.