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Disabled Woman Accused Of ‘Destroying The Environment’ After Stockpiling Plastic Straws

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In certain groups of people, a commonly held political passion can crop up and become so far-reaching that folks simply assume everyone they know agrees, fighting just as hard.

A backdrop like that makes anything less than fervent support a source of real frustration for the “die hards.”

One Redditor recently learned that even a very legitimate reason for hesitancy is no match for that kind of community anger.

She, known as brrwq on the site, explained the whole ordeal in a post to the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.

The Original Poster (OP) led with a throught-provoking title. 

“AITA for telling my cousin to leave after she saw my plastic straw stockpile and accused me of ‘destroying the environment’?”

OP began by offering clarity about her particular circumstances. 

“I [20-year-old female] have neuromuscular disabilities.”

“I cannot drink things without a straw/lid. I need a lid so I don’t spill, a straw because I cannot lift drinks to my mouth and have difficulty getting liquid to the back of my mouth to swallow.”

“Straws alleviate this problem.”

And not just any straws. 

“Plastic straws are necessary because biodegradable/paper ones break apart easily, silicone is not flexible enough, metal straws get hot/cold too easily and are inflexible – which hurts my mouth and makes it impossible to swallow.”

But OP’s straw of choosing isn’t without it’s own drawbacks. 

“My city is currently laying out plans to ban plastic straws, and it has already been implemented in some areas. I am currently stockpiling.”

“My cousin came around to drop something off a few days ago, and found my stockpile when she opened a cupboard.”

“She immediately goes on about how ‘plastic straws are convenient, but you’re destroying the environment,’ ‘Just get reusable straws,’ etc.”

“She’s super passionate about the environment, if you can’t tell.”

OP had no choice but to respond to the confrontation. 

“I tell her to leave, and she drove off really upset.”

“My mum comes home later, and I tell her what happened. Mum is upset that I told her to leave, because my aunt apparently got angry at my mum for me being rude, and that I probably should have explained to her why I need straws instead.”

“That the majority of people who support straw bans don’t realise that single use straws are usually the only way that people with certain disabilities can get hydration safely.”

“I needed to educate her, according to mum.”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

By far the most common response was NTA.

“NTA. Being disabled is generally not environmentally-friendly, and healthy people who have a choice about what products they prefer to use really need to realize that it’s not a choice for everyone.”

“Although straw bans are well-intended, any law or ordinance that doesn’t take people with disabilities into account is incredibly flawed.” — Katt_ler

Some kept their judgments briefer. 

“NTA Ask her if she walks everywhere? If not then thank you for your input!” — Timely_Froyo1384

“NTA- able bodied ppl need to stop expecting free education from their disabled relations. They have access to the internet, they should use it.” — river_221b_

“She’s straw manning you. NTA.” — Dszquphsbnt

And a few challenged the anti-straw stance as a whole. 

“NTA the ableism in the ‘green movement’ is maddening and their initiatives are often performative.”

“The straw situation for example: performative. They make up a tiny percentage of plastic pollution and are an important accessibility measure.”

“If the movement wants to impact plastic in the ocean they should be a thorn in the side of corporate fishing (contribute upwards of 70% of plastic in the ocean) not disabled people.” — JusttheBean

“For fu**’s sake, NTA. The paper straws debate is a propaganda strategy to put blame on consumers and distract from the massive damage that corporations continue to do to the planet.”

“Should we be more mindful? Of course, but unless we large-scale systemic change we are headed for disaster and no amount of paper straws is going to stop that.” — ikbeneenvis

But a handful of people wondered why OP didn’t explain the situation more when challenged by her cousin.

“Slight YTA here. Why didn’t you explain it? Don’t you think the whole thing could have been avoided if your cousin knew why you were upset?”

“You know she’s ‘super passionate about the environment,’ why didn’t you take this opportunity to inform her that some people need the things she is passionate against?” — aubaub

“I think you should have explained your particular need for plastic straws. I don’t think even the staunchest of environmental activists would begrudge you plastic straw use in this case.” — kilawl

“ESH if you do not explain why someone is wrong, but well meaning, and just tell them to leave, when it takes 10 seconds to say ‘I have a disability that makes it very hard for me, and others, to drink without a straw’ you’re also a kind of a**hole.”

“Not being obligated to educate someone doesn’t make you immune from being an a**hole for not doing it. Even more so when its literally 12 words, to someone who means well.” — dreamsuggestor

“YTA. You missed an awesome opportunity to educate. Instead, you cancelled. Try to do better next time.” — uyhchros

And finally, a few took a moment to offer OP some tips for the future. 

“NTA I’ve heard avocado straws are almost identical to plastic ones” — Bloberis

“NAH. Bamboo straws are amazing. I have 12 and use them in rotation. Buy a box.” — Mirianda666

“I’m confused about the silicone straws “not being flexible enough” – the ones I have aren’t just straight straws, they have a bend in them that makes it just like a bendy plastic straw.”

“Would that work for you? Maybe you just need to search a little more, eventually your stash will run out. Good luck op!” — Lilkiska2

“Yo as someone who worked in the food industry for years, stop stockpiling. The plastic these straws are made out of are shit and they break down real quick.”

“If you find an old box of straws in the stockroom then it’s guaranteed that half of them will be useless. I’d just hate to see you waste money on something you need.” — mekta_satak_oz

So if Reddit knows anything at all, it appears OP has two next steps: educate her cousin and take a look at a few new straw options.

Eric Spring

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.