On Monday, July 9, Starbucks announced their discontinuation of single-use plastic straws and said to have straws completely phased out by 2020.
“For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” Starbucks president and chief executive officer, Kevin Johnson, said in a statement released by the company,.
The decision sparked both positive and negative outcry — the negative was fueled by the ignorant idea that a 71.2 billion dollar company had overlooked the fact that some people with disabilities need to use straws in order to enjoy their beverages.
“Eliminating plastic straws can cause many people with disabilities like myself not to be able to eat or drink in a restaurant, in a cafe … it’s more than just a convenience. It is a necessity for people like us.” Sharon Shapiro-Lacks, a board member at the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled said during an interview with PBS NewsHour.
A company this successful would never leave out a specific demographic of people on purpose. In their press release, Starbucks said they will offer straws made from alternative materials for blended beverages and to those who prefer or need straws.
This company isn’t singling anyone out but they are being shamed as if they did. If anything, Starbucks found a way to be more environmentally conscious before any other major corporation did.
Straws are a necessity for some people, and they should have the right to enjoy whatever they want wherever they want. If anything, Starbucks is trying their best to provide for all people while also trying to reduce plastic waste.
Anyone who is overreacting about this probably means well. They are probably trying to look out for a demographic of people that are often overlooked or unheard from. They’re doing what they believe is right.
But five minutes of research can be the difference here. It took all of one simple Google search to discover the original press release and understand the confusion around new lids. It takes a minuscule amount of time to read the statement that was released or to clearly understand that they will still have straws for those who need them.
Straws aren’t leaving Starbucks. Their production is presumed to be decreasing, but instead, Starbucks made sure they had a solution by onboarding straws that are able to decompose. If you want a Frappuccino and need a straw, you can have one. If you have a disability where using a straw eases your life, you can have a straw.
Sure, it will be one of those biodegradable straws that get wet and soggy the instant you press your lips to them, but that’s okay. Starbucks should be commended for their effort, not shunned like they are responsible for forgetting an entire group of people, which they evidently didn’t.
Jacey Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.