Posts Tagged ‘Environmentalism’


I was attempting to not have to do the whole re-education cycle of why plastic straws matter. Historically they were created for safe use in medical settings for patients, and for many with disabilities it is why they do not require feeding tubes. During the pandemic, single use plastics have been a literal life saver (hence why the Canadian Government is holding off until the end of 2021 to institute the ban).

With the announcement has brought forth the same ableism I addressed many times on this page (and my own social media), when the City of Calgary was exploring such a ban. There are a few key points to consider on the single use plastic ban, that I want to ruminate on before actually tackling the straw.

First up, is the plastic bag. Yes, they seem easy and that not much impact will be had. In Calgary, Calgary Co-op has switched to a compostable bag, Sobey’s-Safeway has paper bags, and every other store as an alternative has re-usable bag (starting at $1-$20 at more bougie locales).

Here are some things not considered. The increased use of paper- have you ever seen what paper plants are like? What about recycling it? Now many will scream – Hemp- and I am with you on that one. BUT, and this is a big “b”, where in Canada are stores using hemp paper products? How wide spread is it? Will we see that shift or are we just trading one impracticality on the environment for another (and yes paper straw (the most useless device ever) advocates I am looking at you as well)- much like in the 1980’s when environmental populists caused fast food restaurants to shift from containers that could be used in fertilizer to an unrecyclable paper product (know and learn from history).

Also the cost of reusable bags create an undue hardship upon many Canadians and households (it is a certain socio-economic bracket solution). I have also reached out to many jurisdictions that have banned about the impact on food banks without these bags to use, and no one has ever looked it (or would not answer) the impact on those in need. Plus, many will have the bag do double duty for garbage or their baby’s diapers (which yes the compostable option or a hemp paper still allows for, same with the food banks). We as a society just cannot trust that corporate Canada will do what is best for the consumer, and not the profit line.

Now onto the straws. I like in a province where UCP populism has been tapped, where former Reform Party leader, and son of a former premier, Preston Manning has warned against tapping this vein for the path it can take you down and all you are left with is anger and hate. What is also does, like environmental populism is create an echo chamber of re-enforcement, and seeing it as okay to attack programs to support those with disabilities as they have little human capital. I see a connection with environmental populism here, and their ableism in ignoring the need for the plastic straw, and unwillingness to explore creation of a product that meets both needs. Or to be more blunt– just listen to those it impacts, and create dialogue, held space, and let them lead the solution finding phase.

See for many in the disabilities community as I opened up with it ticks all the boxes for physical safety they need and independence. Also it is socio-economically viable, compared to the cost of the many re-usable options they are pelted with. They do not have to worry about the straw being sanitary, as lack of support staff (or funding for such), dexterity, or dropped cleaning implement (or sadly, socio-economics) can all create barriers for usage even with not touching on things such as teeth breaking, harm to mouth, jaw, choking, etc from other variants.

Yet, we are to hold that it is up to the one in need to find the solution, and to accept the solutions being pelted. If not, then it is simply being seen as obstinate or not wanting to work for a solution.

Nope.

It is simpler than that.

See the full humanity of the other person. What that person needs to thrive and enjoy life.

Then enter into conversation as equals about any changes that are plausible and possible.

Without that,

it is just another form of oppression being driven by populism- regardless if it is political or social justice, an empty, inhumane echo-chamber.

Let’s move forward together, as one community, seeing neighbour as full people instead, eh?

Other articles on/around this topic from me:

https://tyragan.wordpress.com/tag/plastic-straw-ban/

https://tyragan.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/people-need-straws-calgary-sun-7-7-18/

https://tyragan.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/foot-in-door-technique/


There needs to be more of thinking outside of ourselves in our world, and understanding how decisions we make have a ripple that can adversely effect another. Yes, as you read this know that I have and am a life long environmentalist and progressive. Yet we also need to move forward in healing and reconciling with creation by not picking and choosing who can live. Oh and to borrow a colloquialism from Twitterverse, don’t @ me. I am well aware of the many options for other straws, but there is a percentage those are not safe or usable for so shut it.

From Calgary Sun, Letters to the Editor July 7, 2018:

PEOPLE NEED STRAWS
Re: Plastic Straw Ban. A few pictures of turtles and our world wants to ban plastic straws. Something that makes up 1/10 of 1% of plastics in our world. Not looking a the other 99.9% of plastics that may inconvenience those screaming (frappe cups; Keurig one serves, etc.). It has become a “ban challenge” coming out of B.C. What is left out of the discussion is that for some persons with disabilities, the only way they can ingest liquids is through the pliable plastic straws. That is right, we are running a ban that essentially is telling a segment of the population you do not deserve to drink or belong. When this information, and information on the safety concerns (from choking, to burns, to breaking of teeth, etc.) have been brought forward to city councillors, the response is when we debate this it is something to consider. Please let that sink in for where we are in Calgary’s history: something to consider. We will consider at our political level if it is OK if some cannot provide sustenance to themselves or not? Before bandwagoning, take time to explore outside of your own bubble of self absorption and ask, if I was the one in need of something to live others wanted to ban, what would I want societies response to be? I believe in a Calgary where all are welcome, allowed to belong, thrive and live. The plastic straw ban, asks whether or not people with disabilities are allowed.
TY RAGAN
(Far bigger issues locally and in the world than plastic straws.)


Johnny Power was the Thunder in thunder and lightning (lightning being the Speedster)…the muscle in the new Great Crime Fighters before the new Bionic Knight emerged. Third of three to hold the name. The first went down due to a bomb in a singing thong on a giant robot and the second died at the end of the scythe of the supernatural entity finally exorcised from reality who went by the name Ripper (sometimes Jack was the rumour).

This was the third…who stood the ground during the dark times, and cheered a little inside when the O.G. B.K. came back to silence the anti-heroes and renew the heroic age. The rumour that caused two new members, George and Dragyn, and the rumour that it would come. The cause of the extra-terrestrial exodus to Earth. What inevitable caused the vanishing of the weird old man and the mayor (yes he realized that Shotgun pointed out many times the term old was subjective).

BUT the ashram got a case of noro-virus that took out Speedster, the new Bionic Knight, and Dragyn (who knew reptillians were able to catch it?)—and George, well he had a habit of vanishing when needed. Shotgun offered to come to help him, but really what could the old guy with the shogun that fired rubber rounds do to help in this case?

The case?

It came from out of the water. Everyone was looking to the sky, so maybe it wasn’t the big bag prophesied in the McDonald’s. It was a bad though. One that rankled the environmentalist lobby (bunch of wankers who lacked science degrees, but it was all about marketing) who were being ableist with their ban the straw bullshit, while governments dumped raw sewage into the oceans. Oh and let’s not forget the fun hiking clothes they wore and the process of creating stainless steel, but Johnny pulls his mind back from the rabbit hole of anger. The mayor had two special needs twins that if the ludicrousness of the ban the straw had been launched with her around he could only imagine her blasting of it on safety grounds, and the targeting of a specific group via passive-aggressive legislation that showed underpinnings of extremism not usually seen in uber-lefties, but when the alt-right and uber-left circle about they connect in hate stupidity.

Now exploding out of the Pacific Ocean was the end result of uber-hate-stupidity. A giant extra-terrestrial something dripping in human fecal matter and other flushable (not a plastic straw in sight) threatening to decimate the Island. Shotgun scrambled all he had in Johnny. Johnny knew he could do it.

It was his time to shine.

His time to step into his legacy name.

The thing from below was scaly and shiny.

Razor teeth.

Fire in the eyes literally.

“What could you have done to help stop this thing old man. It needs the full power.” Johnny Power whispers under his breath. Although as see monsters went, it was only a step up from the rubber suit of the original Godzillas he had snuck out of bed to watch on late night CBC as a kid. There was some choppers, and voices. The military was rolling out.

His trench coat flapped in the wind as he streaked towards whatever it was. Some were saying it was a new life form. At times like this the lad wished he had the vision powers of Superman, not just flight, strength and invulnerability.  The code of the G.C.F. was fairly clear if it was living, subdue not kill. Part of Johnny hoped it was.

There. As he drew closer. The sound of a gears creaking. It was a robot.

A smile crossed his face. He could only imagine what Shotgun was saying at this moment. Yeah it would be fun to have the others with him, but truly with it coming out both ends, no one wanted them in the field. Even heroes deserve a sick day.

His fists slam into the sternum. He feels metal crunch. Bodily fluids from the ocean slap against him. Johnny grits reminding himself to keep his mouth closed. His mind raced and it unfolded in his mind. It wasn’t just the feces and other flushable had covered this thing. Something had animated the garbage from the ocean. He could feel the energy coursing through it. Shotgun hadn’t foreseen this happening, but he had kept going on about using science to do proper reclamation and cleaning work, well whatever was attacking had found away to use humanities own crap (literally) against us.

But…

Smash into the centre. The energy burned like fire on a marshmallow over a fire pit before being added to s’more completion. Power thanked whichever gods gave him invulnerability as he punched through to the centre. If the energy is drawing crud from the ocean to make its form, what if?

His home.

The prairies.

The story of the abandoned bunker just outside Balzac.

Time for flight.

A loud grunt. He feels something oozing over him as he flies upwards. Took about an hour to make it, so if adjust for weight. A 90-minute flight back to the province.

Clearing into canola country and the land of oil.

The bunker would be coming up. The monster’s energy had continued increasing the heat. Battling to hold its form together.

Johnny’s eye stung. He did not want to know what had mixed in with his sweat that ran into his eyes. A shriek into his brain that drove through like a hot dagger through flesh.

“WE COME!”

Johnny and monster fall downwards, into the sealed bunker he feels the energy burn. But he cannot burn.

The stop.

The form collapses.

A slew of sludge, garbage and other debris.

Not realizing he had been holding his breath as he crumbles to his knees Johnny exhales.

He looks at the burns on his hands. Pulls the smoking fecal covered coat off him.

“I did it.” Legacy. “I really am Johnny Power.

The dagger shot into the brain again.

“THE LAST OF YOUR KIND.”


Ok I admit I do love an incendiary editorial title. It grips you, but it also should get you to question accepted norms. We are an entrenching and/or entrenched ideological society. In 21st Century Canada with the accumulated human wisdom and knowledge literally available on your smart phone, that is sad. The algorithms do not allow you to have your own held beliefs challenged which allows for more tribalism than before exploration.

Which is also why in the 21st century we are still wasting time dickering over the believability of the science of climate change (formerly global warming). Yes, the climate of the earth is constantly changing (anyone who holds to old earth theory—you know actual science not creationism-literalism) knows there are cycles. What has been observed and recorded since the Industrial Revolution is that our actions as humans is speeding up the process. It may not become a problem until my great grandkids, but something needs to change. One cannot continually consume without their own body getting ill (hence old Roman Empire Vomitorium’s) and the same it is for ol’ Mother Nature. Indigenous peoples have held the wisdom to look at decisions as they affect 7 generations down the road, got advice to heed as we look at caring for Mother Earth and Father Sky.

And before those of the Abrahamic-Sarah Covenantal religions (Judaism-Christianities-Islam and all that encompasses) by-pass me as some science not spirit individual. Nope. In the creation stories, God gave creation to Adam & Eve as caretakers, much like each new generation entrusts their lives, and the lives of their grandkids to their kids (reading the ancients stories through a psycho-social lifespan development is quite enlightening). But I digress.

The latest call to arms is banning plastics for the harm it is doing. This months United Church Observer is all over it, the British PM at G7 is attempting to get that group on board, and locally Councillor Druh Farrell is talking about it as well. Great sound bites, sounds all fine and good. But it is much like the old prohibition days (remember under SoCreds when liquor service had to stop in Alberta air space? Moose Jaw, SK know where those tunnels came from? {and yes I realize one set was a human atrocity against Chinese slave-labour brought over to build our railroad, I am speaking to the Capone one’s)}. It was a short-sighted solution for a societal ill that failed. It looked at the symptom not the cause, and that is where the current environmentalist fever is.

Plastics are a symptom. It is not the cause, any elder of the war years knows recycling and re-use better than anyone. Any one from Gen X or younger was inundated with the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We know it, but it is not wisdom, like what is available on your smart phone. It is paid lip service, and we do our due diligence with the blue and green bins, but are we doing more than treating the latest open sore from the bar room brawl?

Have we invested properly in STEM to look at better ways of converting existing (currently in Calgary, encased in concrete sarcophagus,) waste into cleaner forms of energy and matter? Explored how to recycle more of what we use more expertly? How do we create something out of once use plastics?

But better yet. How do we tackle a true western world disease of over consumption? I used the term classist in my by-line because we are chastised for needing to reduce consumption quite a bit, and it is usually targeted to the working classes, where the wealthier get opt outs, or ways around or the tried and true, well they have money so of course. Want to know the last time I bought a new cell phone? Well mine is still a flip phone. Last television? Christmas 2017-as the flat screen I inherited died after 9 years, before that? 2001 with my first cheque for being a pastor, others before that were used or passed down. New vehicle? Uhm my family has had 3 mini-vans, all older, all kept going until they needed to go to the recyclers… clothes, worn and donated, and yes I know they don’t end up in the landfill because I am usually also one of the ones giving them out (though it was funny when someone thanked me for finally becoming charitable and giving).

The wrong classes are being targeted with the reduce message, but it will not change under a system created to sell products where things have to be upgraded constantly to keep economies floating. A message that your value is not in who you are, but in what new toy you are able to get. Where there is no international standards, so laws used in some countries whole companies can go elsewhere and create worse pollution scenarios by having their products made their and shipped back.

It speaks to a system that has to admit, it takes all jobs to make an economy work, and there is no shameful work. That the classist system is the highest consumers, and discarders of product are the ones that need to be targeted, not the lowest consumers.  That we need to invest in our STEM future and find ways to reclaim polluted waterways, soils and air…as well as cleanse and reuse the already buried wastes. That is useful environmentalism.

City planners that allow city growth to outstrip resourcing for healthy public services-including transit, shoppes, and schools so you are forced into a driver commuter scenario, extra monetary burdens come as work is never within your own area either. Municipalities need to take responsibility for feeding the consumption dragon by not setting appropriate limits, and ensuring key infrastructure for citizens on those areas can be reached via more than one modality (i.e. not just by driving the country mile urbanly– yes City of Calgary I am speaking to you).

Yet I also touched upon the word ABLEIST. What is that? Simple, discrimination against persons with disabilities. In darker forms, it is eugenics. The breeding practices of live stock brought to creating the perfect human being through selective breeding, abortion, and homicide (passive or active) to remove the weak from the gene pool. And yes, in the more social media ends of the world from any movements extreme this still exists (left or right, ya both raise idjits).

And I see signs of ableism within the neo-environmentalist movement. There is an assumption everyone can use public transit (does not take into account ruralism); or walk/bike (does not take into account clear pathways and connecting points for ones mobility devices). Does not take into account that something needs to be figured out for medical waste, and that includes incontinent products. BUT…

And this one is not going to make me friends. The single use straw, the current “evil” to be banned. Well, hate to burst the progressive or conservative, it is a useful tool for a person with disabilities to get liquids. As one twitter convo pointed out to me, the paper ones can create choking hazards. Reusable ones become breeding grounds for bacteria (have you ever tried to truly get one sanitary and clean?); and metal/stainless steel? C’mon does that sound like a safe thing in the cold or with a hot bevvie?

What continually seeking the greatest soundbite reminder has done in the movement is create a constant chase of symptoms. It has not encouraged growth, respect, understanding, inclusion or belonging for all those in the human family with the creation we share. That is where neo-environmentalism is failing. I yearn for a movement that moves beyond the simple, to truly attack at the core issue of the crisis… over consumption, and anything for a profit mentality over the sanctity of life.

We are the caretakers of creation for our children, and six generations on. Can it survive our consumption? Are we willing to get production slowed so all can come along safely? Are we willing to call out the over-consumer? Are we willing to not shame the one who needs something for a life aid?

Are we willing to be one another’s neighbour and not adversary?