Earlier this month, Starbucks introduced new lids to eliminate the use of plastic straws. Seattle and Vancouver are the first locations to distribute the lids to customers. The long-term goal is to completely rid of plastic straws in more than 28,000 stores around the world.
The environmental milestone started out as an assignment for Emily Alexander in 2016. As an engineer in Global Research and Development at Starbucks, Alexander and her team were assigned to create a lid for a specific drink called Draft Nitro. The design could not involve a straw in order to exhibit the cold foam of the drink. The development spanned 10 weeks before the team produced the appropriate lid, which would become the standard for cold beverages.
With the launch of strawless lids, Starbucks stated in their announcement that it is "a decision that will eliminate more than 1 billion straws a year."
The United States is the latest country to follow the plastic ban with corporations like American Airlines and Disney joined Starbucks.
However, the disabled community is expressing dismay for the straw ban.
Katherine Carroll, a policy analyst, indicated the accommodation the community did not receive when the ban was put into effect. In an elucidation for Time, she noted plastic straws are used by individuals with incapacities to eat and drink. Thus, she stated: " . . . it seems the blanket bans are not taking into account that they need straws and also that that plastic straw replacements are not accessible for people."
Plastic straws have been regarded as convenient for those who use them. Paper straws disintegrate while metal straws change temperatures and cause pain.
"Other types of straw simply do not offer the combination of strength, flexibility, and safety that plastic straws do," a statement from the letter co-written by Disability Rights Washington cowrote and other advocacy groups.
Daniel Gilbert, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, shared how plastic straws make his life easier. When he attempts to explain the convenience of using them, there is a tendency for others to accuse him of being wrong. He is not in any way against being environmentally conscious. Gilbert wants to be part of the movement, but it will only be possible for him and others with disabilities if they can be accommodated for their certain needs.
In an opinion piece by Madison Lawson for Teen Vogue, she further explains the conflicting effect of banning plastic straws on disabled individuals including herself. Her condition, similar to what Gilbert suffers from, prevents her from doing simple tasks such as picking up a cup and leaning her neck back to drink. Without a straw, she puts herself in potential danger as she may "[swallow] liquid down the wrong pipe which is risky for [her] weak lungs."
Plastic straws serve as a key instrument for those who have disabilities when they consume liquid. The disabled community do not want to be excluded from the environmental campaign; they wish to be accommodated as well, to continue living comfortable lives.