Posts Tagged ‘Plastic Straw Ban’


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/


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Azeem and child discussing diversity.  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

It was my summer of Writerific, I was 12 years old and with other young writers discovering our voices, strengthening our ability to tell stories…and yes part of that was moving into areas that some would deem controversial. It was also the summer I first picked up A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It was the summer as well, with Robin Hood, and this great exchange between Azeem, a Moor from the Holy Land who stood with Robin Hood, and a child, who simply asks about that which she had never seen. It is a simple scene, some may never remember it, yet it is one that teaches so much about dignity and respect in a world of belonging. It teaches, curiosity is never wrong. Conversation is never wrong. Oh, and when one has a question, ask as politely as you can to the one you have the question of.

This is our mission this year (and every year) to raise the level of discourse and dignity within the community of super heroes my son is apart of. The most offensive thing (well maybe not the most, but on the royally ticking off scale) is being out and about, and a parent shuffling their child by saying don’t stare. Let your kid come up and chat with my son, he will be his loving self… Oh and adults…you have questions…don’t bypass my son and speak to us, start talking to him first.

Other pro-tips for the professional and non-professional out there to bring better dignity to our world:

  1. It is “What’s wrong with him?” rather it is, what does he use a wheel chair? What does that gesture mean? or like the child, why did God sculpt him this way?
  2. Anyone with a pulse knows (or should by now) that the R-word is as atrocious as any racial slur…regardless of how you try to use it and needs to cease. The challenge is many do not understand the root of “handicap”. Much legislation and language needs to be updated to speak of accessibility or universal design/barrier free instead of this word. Historically it was the term for those with disabilities, as they were on the lower socio-economic spectrum (poverty class) and would come cap in hand for alms. So much like in the Franciscan tradition when the term Mendicant was tossed at those monastics as a slur, so handicaps root is such…it means beggar, less than, outcast. Words matter in reclaiming dignity and belonging.
  3. Ableism is what happens without dignity (at its worst is Eugenics). The plastic straw ban is ableist, and how the religious and spiritual jumped on board to support shows their lack of understanding around the issue (please see other posts on this topic)… not only the life giving of the plastic straw for some with disabilities, but when the United Church Observer online finally after months of debating their editors changes from “plastic straws evil” to “plastic straws should be available for anyone via a fee” finally a strong stance, but one that does not understand the socio-economic history of persons with disabilities, and goes back to a misreading of the gospel from a spectrum of theology that sees less than, not full belonging (we shall see if they print my challenge to them this coming September).
  4. Diapers!!! ARGH!!! The most indignity we present to persons who are differently abled. Unless you are a newborn or a toddler, it s not a diaper or a nappy. They are undergarments that happen to have incontinence protection. Underwear. (YES CBE AND MEDICAL COMMUNITY AND ALBERTA GOVERNMENT LOOKING AT YOU!!!), the simple things make life livable, do you go around telling people oh I am going to wipe my butt now? Or hey I just left skid marks in my boxers? NO. Why assume we can treat someone else that way.
  5. Grief. Yes it is a scary world for those our society deems “typical”. We like to code to prove cognition and whether or not someone comprehends “death and grieving” for if they qualify for “counselling”. Let’s keep it real (again Alberta Education and Alberta Health looking at you, but also the Church)… at any level any child or person knows when someone was in their life and gone. They cycle through missing them, whether or not they have the ability to vocalize or communicate it in such a way that we understand. It is not on them to enter our world to heal, it is on us as their neighbour to enter their world  This is where the church women’s group from the movie Lars and the Real Girl got it right, it is about just simply being, and yes sometimes it is in the silence.
  6. Do not live in the grief/shame or inflict it upon us. That is to the world in general, and to the family unit. We are given a narrative of what a child’s life is to be. Then when something changes that narrative we are put in this place where if we choose to move out of grief/shame or the “you’re a hero for doing this” or the “it takes a special kind of person” narrative then we are ungrateful. NO! We choose to stand in the beauty of the life before us. Yes, we truly believe this is part of the rainbow of life, the beautiful image of the Holy Mystery. Everyone is who they are meant to be, and they will achieve vocational life and wholeness because we come around as community in love and belonging. The grief/shame is perpetuated when our world stops at only accessibility or inclusion.
  7. yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

    1. -James 4:14 (English Standard Version)
    2. As the words of the brother of Jesus- James, Bishop of Jerusalem, the man who was because of the love of his Mother, Mary of Nazareth, says it directly. In our world we too often let the labels, the coding, the diagnosis become the prognosis or script for life. It is time to shatter the glass ceiling for everyone in our world, and to simply know that each and everyone of us belongs. That, and the life that appears and is lived is shaped within the community from those who are blood and chosen family to broader neighbours. Are we willing to live life with out barriers?
  8. Oh, and if we are not a service being paid for out of pocket by the government or ourselves, it is not something “FOR”… if you are an elective community group (community association, church, sports leagues, etc), you are doing things “with” the person. For they are a part of the community, and as such are a full member, who like any member just needs different things to belong. Hell, even if there is a pay… the activities better be WITH, as everyone’s communication (voice however it is found) and life has value and worth…as such, deserves dignity. (Special shout out to the Presbyterian Church in Canada for using “with” language in your justice documents for persons with disabilities, and acknowledging the poverty and socio-economic disparity that exists in the community)

These are but a few ways to show love to your neighbour, and yourself. These are but a few ways to understand the answer to the child’s question to Azeem.

Better yet, look at yourself in the mirror. And simply let the inner-child ask you the question:

Did God paint you?

How does your inner Azeem answer?

Now be with your world, as the child, and as the answer.


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.)


Time is not linear. Yes, that is how we track it, but truly we tend to circle back to our regressive roots as cultures more often than not. Almost make that break through on belonging and then BANG! door is closed. The BANG! is usually caused by a slow but steady marketing technique- foot in door. It literally started with door to door salesmen that would use the tip of their shoe to block a closing door so they could use a cold read on the customer to give an in roads to a sale.

We see it today. It is still used within group circles (religious, political and social justice jump to mind the most). In good case scenarios one can look at this technique used for things such as Universal Health Care; human rights; to name but a few.

Unfortunately it has become more familiar in the not so good realms of our societies. A United conservative party candidate recently tweeted of using the technique if they formed government to limit funding, and access to abortion.

In Trump’s America, the resurgence of Fascism started within the Christian Right Circles. First they forgave his philandering ways; Republicans made excuses for his racism and misogyny in allowing him to continue to run; then he mocked a reporter (person) with Cerebral Palsy, and it was still okay. Open and active racism had become acceptable. Apologetic of evangelical Christian faith went into full defense mode, and now there is kids in cages and people scratch their heads as to why.

It reminds me of a great Star Trek story. In the original series was an episode, “Space Seed” that had Kirk & co rescue the Botany Bay. Khan and his crew were survivors of the Eugenics Wars. Yup. Eugenics, genetically engineering to the superior species- perfection- what the Nazi & Stalinist holocausts were all about (extermination of Jews, persons with disabilities, political dissidents, multiple births (i.e twins), LGBTQ2). In the lore of ST it was a war, and Khan and his people were the outcome finally overthrown as Earth realized the horror of their ways. In good Star Trek fashion their lives are spared even after they try to capture the ship, and are left on Ceti Alpha VI to make a new way for themselves.

The sequel was probably one of the best Star Trek movies ever made: Wrath of Khan. Which brought a great quote into the universe of Trekkies:

The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

-Captain Spock

An older Admiral Kirk with his original lead team, on a ship of young cadets are on a mission to save the Genesis experiment (literally life from lifelessness, or reversed not so kind). The lead scientists are an old flame of Kirk’s (of course) and a son, David, he never knew of. (watch the movie, get Space Seed on Netflix, it makes for a good conversation night). The battle against regression, anger, and hatred is the battle of the Enterprise against Khan. One that costs the next generation (Scotty’s nephew is amongst the causalities). And a friendship ends.

Trekkies were rocked, as Spock died to save the ship, the crew, and be able to get the win. The inevitable hatred and belief of superiority, supremacy of one species over the other, destroyed Khan and his followers.

And you can see the idea that lefties have clung to this idea of the needs of the many can outweigh the needs of the few. So has the right. Civics 101 is simple, the political continuum is not linear, it is spherical, and extremism on both ends comes out to the same hatred filled conclusions. It begins with a simple foot in the door.

For progressives the foot in the door currently in in environmentalism. The great End Plastic Straw Ban Challenge. It is precipitated on the idea that plastic straws are evil and need to end (as well as single use plastics). It started from a horrific picture of what humans using Mother Earth as our toilet, and gutter, has done in regards to straws and turtles.

Yet it is the Khan superiority play. There is a multitude of variances or different types of straws that can be used. Many involve a higher cost (socio-economic challenges). BUT, and this is a big but…

It misses that there is a percentage of those with mental health that need single use plastic straws to overcome germ phobia when drinking.

AND

More, there is a percentage of persons with disabilities in that the only viable straw they can safely use to drink, have some type of independence, is a single use plastic straw.

(and on the socio-economic front, there is a higher percentage of persons with disabilities in the lower socio-economic spectrum)

Want to see hate outside of the Trump feeds? Check out the feeds on the straw bans.

A foot in door. Straws make up 1/10 of 1% of plastics, yet we will target it because it inconveniences the majority the least. Who cares that it actually is a life issue for some. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. It is so much truth even Star Trek taught it.

WRONG!

The Eugenics story line was a trilogy. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Kirk and company literally had a chance to possibly save Spock. To allow life. There careers, and status were on the line. But if there was a chance all could move forward in life, then it was worth taking. It was not classed as rational, or logical as Spock’s decision was. It was made out of the decision of being family. Of belonging. Simply put it was the outcome that sometimes:

The needs of the few or the one, outweigh the needs of the many.

As we move the door open by foot. Let’s look at the way it was used for good. Let’s ensure we are not using it to push an agenda of passive or assertive hatred.

Let us step outside our own concern, as Star Trek showed us. Step outside our own concern, and be able to understand experience from another perspective. Be able to comprehend that even if this makes no sense to me that perhaps, simply perhaps, we need to do better as humanity.

When you hear people saying to save the world we need to ban plastic straws and celebrate as the bans roll in. As persons with disabilities go, hey but that means “me” or “my bud” can’t— BELIEVE THEM!

Stand up to the extremes that harm life.

In each of the stories of Eugenics the crew of the Enterprise had a choice to make.

They chose life.

Will you step outside of yourself, empathize, set aside your regimented ideologies and do the same?

Are you able to choose life?

Or does belonging in hate mean more no matter how pretty they make it?