Home / Disability rights groups express problems with Starbucks straw ban as the company responds

Disability rights groups express problems with Starbucks straw ban as the company responds



A Starbucks official contacted activists for the rights of people with disabilities on Saturday, a day before a planned protest against their recent ban on plastic straw, in what several disability rights groups said was the start of a direct conversation about the prohibition. [19659002] After Starbucks announced on July 9 that it would eliminate plastic straws from its stores by 2020, disability rights activists were concerned that the policy would exclude some people with disabilities. Several groups based in New York City, including the Center for the Independence of the Disabled and Disabled in Brooklyn, had planned to protest in front of a Starbucks in Union Square on the Sunday after the Annual Pride of Disability Parade.

Activists hoped the protest would help spread awareness of their concerns, but canceled it after a phone call with Starbucks Global Environment Director Rebecca Zimmer , who contacted the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled to discuss the policy.

"It was clearly a response to our plans to protest," said Joseph Rappaport, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled (BCID).

Starbucks issued a statement on Friday specifying that the straws will be available to anyone who asks to use them. "Starbucks offers, and will continue to offer, sips to customers who need them or request them in our stores," the statement said.

BCID leaders say they want Starbucks to make sure there are single-use plastic straws, with no questions, for those who request them. On Saturday's call, Zimmer said Starbucks would provide sorbets to anyone who asked for it, but did not confirm that they would be plastic, according to Rappaport.

"To be clear, they have not complied with our demands, but we hope they will do so after continuing the conversation," Rappaport said.

Zimmer was not available for comment on Sunday. "We are pleased with the outcome and look forward to ongoing discussions on this subject," Sanja Gould, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told NewsHour Weekend via email.

The announcement by Starbucks that they would remove all the plastic straws from their stores has received praise from many environmentalists. But people with disabilities who rely on plastic straws to eat, drink and live their daily lives say that prohibiting straws would harm many in their community and that they were not included in the conversation.

"If you think about it, a straw seems so small and insignificant, but this seemingly insignificant thing only shows how little those policy makers and business owners pay attention to us, or want to receive our feedback," said Sharon Shapiro-Lacks. , member of the board of directors of BCID and executive director of Yad HaChazakah, a Jewish organization that advocates for people with disabilities.

"Removing plastic straws can cause many people with disabilities like me not to be able to eat or drink in a restaurant, in a cafe … it's more than just convenience, it's a necessity for people like us", He said.

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Starbucks is not the only company that is taking measures to eliminate plastic straws. Plastic straw bans have become increasingly popular online, with celebrities putting their weight behind the problem and users of social networks using the #stopsucking and #plasticfreeocean hashtags to show their support. Companies such as McDonalds, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Ikea and Hyatt are also working on the gradual elimination of plastic straws.

Seattle became the first major city to ban jails earlier this month, and others like New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are considering legislation to do the same. Scotland, Taiwan, Australia and Costa Rica also pbaded legislation on plastic straw. The Seattle law allows companies to store plastic straws for people who need them.

A painful 2015 viral video, showing a marine biologist removing a plastic straw wedged in the nose of a sea turtle, inspired support to ban plastic straws. in agreement with the ecologists who work to ban the straws. That, in addition to the growing public concern about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the microplastics in oceans and seafood, had made prohibiting straws seem like an easy victory for many ecologists and politicians, according to Rafael Espinal, author of a bill that would prohibit plastic straws in New York City.

Starbucks has said they are committed to finding plastic straw alternatives that work for everyone. But advocates for the rights of people with disabilities say they do not exist yet. The plastic straws are flexible, durable and can withstand high temperatures in case the user needs it to drink coffee or hot soup, for example. From now on, the defenders agree that no alternative seems to be able to do the same.

"Other types of sorbets simply do not offer the combination of strength, flexibility and safety that plastic straws have," Disability Rights Washington said in an open letter to the Seattle City Council.

The straws protrude from a glbad in an illustration image in Loughborough, Great Britain, on April 19, 2018. Photo by Darren Staples / Reuters

The paper straws soak and disintegrate, a potential danger of suffocation. Biodegradable straws can not withstand high temperatures. Stainless steel straws are not flexible and can be potentially dangerous, cutting your mouth and gums if used incorrectly. If you are someone who has seizures, or poor motor function, or has difficulty controlling muscle groups, steel and glbad straws may not be a safe option. And the new "adult glbades" from Starbucks may not work for people who can not bring a cup to their mouths.

"People want to solve this problem in a nanosecond, and it's not that simple," Rappaport said. "We have something that works, we have something that keeps people alive, and until we have an alternative, this is what we need to use."

Shapiro-Lacks, who has cerebral palsy, recently testified at a hearing on the New York City Council about not being able to access a straw in an outing with her husband.

"My husband had to hold my cup in my mouth so I could drink in a way that attracted the attention of the public," he said. "This compromises my privacy and dignity."

Starbucks is important because it sets an example for other companies that plan to ban straws, Shapiro-Lacks said.

"If we achieve a good solution with Starbucks, that will be greater, and if they deviate, it's a very poor example," he said.


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