You might have come across many pictures on the internet where disabled individuals’ have difficulties eating with standard utensils or cups. And, for that reason, plastic utensils remain the best choice for those with different needs. Simply put, eco-ableism is a type of ableism or prejudice against individuals who do not have a disability.
It seems like the world has been constructed to neglect disabled people’s needs and existence, facilitating a never-ending cycle of struggle. Buildings, essential household items, and the people’s behavior serve as reminders to those who have suffered severe injuries that the society, constructed by capable individuals, ignores their presence.
The term “eco” refers to environmental activists who fail to consider others who are less fortunate in their efforts to preserve the environment. It highlights a broader problem within the ecological movement: people need greater diversity in their leaders’ views. You can easily find many disabled people on the internet who are marginalized for their unique plastic needs.
There are even blogs by some activists attempting to shame people who use disposable cups or single-use dishes into altering their wasteful habits. But who is in the wrong? How can the problem of eco ableism be tackled in such circumstances? Read on to know more about how eco-ableism makes the lives of disabled people more complex and confusing.
How Is Transportation a Major Issue?
Transportation is just another instance of how eco-ableism has infiltrated the sustainability movement. Walking, riding a bike, or using public transit are essential methods for ordinary people to travel. However, some individuals with physical impairments are unable to use these modes of transportation.
Instead, one of the most influential and valuable modes of transportation is driving or utilizing a vehicle designed for people with particular physical impairments. Wheelchair-accessible cars, such as 3 wheel mobility scooters, are available for such people.
Individuals may enter, drive, and leave the bike on their own thanks to the front-loading option, which saves time and offers the driver greater flexibility. Even though many of these vehicles may emit CO2, they improve the lives and health of thousands of disabled people.
Why Is Eco-Ableism a Big Deal?
Many companies and countries have implemented single-use plastic bans to meet the increasing acceptability of a zero-waste environment. Seattle imposed a city-wide prohibition on all disposable utensils and straws in July 2018.
This meant that any company in the city, such as bars, cafes, or clubs, had to stop utilizing these single-use products. Consequently, many of these places are now inaccessible to disabled people who rely on flexible, single-use plastic straws, forks, and plates to eat.
How Does One Classify What Is Essential?
Many events raise the issue of how the world may reduce waste while yet accommodating everyone. The solution resides in the perceptions of what is “important” and “non-essential.” Many people believe that single-use plastics are unnecessary. They may utilize reusable or biodegradable alternatives. Some people, however, have physical limitations that need the use of special straws or utensils.
It’s impossible to make washable metal straws that don’t bend or biodegradable straws that don’t stay dry. Cars are often seen as non-essential, particularly in large metropolitan areas, where individuals may have short journeys or connections to public transit. They may, however, be critical for people who are unable to utilize public transport without assistance. Overall, people may strive to remove only non-essential and unnecessary waste while assessing zero waste policies, initiatives, and lifestyles.
How to Tackle This Problem?
Taking on eco ableism requires a commitment to systemic change. This entails tackling the roots of the climate problem and social injustice rather than simply the symptoms. It means creating a whole new future rather than making minor adjustments to the current schedule.
How can groups create a new future that satisfies everyone’s wants while also addressing the climate crisis? By working together to imagine and dream up new systems and solutions.
To do so, the climate movement must prioritize access and inclusiveness. In addition to wide access choices as standard in all places and roles. We must hear and value the voices of people with disabilities. People on the margins shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought, contacted after the fact on plans. Everyone must establish the program, shape expectations, and develop solutions that satisfy everyone’s requirements.
Climate justice is a phrase in the climate movement to describe climate change as a moral, social, and political problem rather than simply an environmental concern. As people are starting to deal with other issues, they need to begin placing ableism within their climate justice stories. They must also recognize it as a fundamental problem and focus on how it affects modern society. People need different places for learning and debate that center on handicapped voices and education and empathy from non-disabled people currently involved in the climate movement.
While environmental preservation is critical, the world must also consider the needs of people with disabilities. For people with challenges, ableism in prohibiting plastic straws is only the tip of the iceberg. It is wrong to assume that those who are physically able can contribute in every manner possible to reduce adverse environmental effects.
So, unless you specifically request it, you may keep disposable cups out of your café and make them available whenever people need them. It’s beyond time to start thinking about the needs of the disabled. Both visible and invisible, while also preserving the environment.
Author: Lisa Dinh