Being Disabled isn’t Eco Friendly: Get Off Our Backs and Put In The Work

I live in France and despite the fact that a Costco opened just outside of the city, I deeply miss bulk shopping. So, when my dad asked me what I wanted him to bring from home, it was simple: paper plates. Can I get them here? Sure. But can I get 700 at once? No. My dad delivered and I am currently working off pack 2 of 2. Will this piss off some granola-eating, unironic-Birkenstock-wearing, nutmeg wholesaler who can’t shut up about his new stainless-steel water bottle? You betcha! But will that same person come over each night to make sure my dishes are done? Hell no.

Every so often I come across posts about innovations that increase waste and are deemed ridiculous even though these very ideas make disabled people’s lives easier. I’m not above it either. I thought it was ridiculous to sell pre-peeled oranges and halved avocados until it was mentioned to me that it made some of my friend’s lives easier. And it makes sense, those less dexterous or who have chronic pain might enjoy the independence in the kitchen pre-chopped and peeled produce might provide. If brands knew how to speak to disabled consumers better and believed in the power of the disabled buyer, they might avoid backlash. (But that would take hiring someone disabled)

My hand holding a white flower at an ecological preserve in India.

I already have a difficult time with environmentalism being the only global issue that some people fall on their sword for, especially given the many humanitarian crises around the world. (Do you think talking to me about plastic straws makes you look woke?) But truly addressing waste in the environment by disabled and marginalized people may require looking into the expansion and affordability of services that are made available to disabled people.

Environmentalism can be used as a shield. Kind of the “All Lives Matter” of advocacy but true activists know that it requires more than simply recycling plastics or banning straws, but racial, social, economic, and disability justice to make true strides to environmental stewardship. People for whom it is a struggle to live day to day aren’t going to invest emotional, financial or logistical resources to thinking about the next 100-200 years. So, sorry, you may have avoided taking sides on poverty, the minimum wage, healthcare or Black Lives Matter, but you’re going to have to care about people that are different from you. The environment requires it.

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  1. Very real.. it’s ridiculous that we are the ones who are blamed for our supposed ecological sins, rather than the issues and policies making us do these things. Also, you have freed yourself from dishes? How great. I think I prefer plastic plates to paper- sometimes if I am eating a juicy food, the soggy paper interacts with the texture of the food in a way that I don’t find appealing.

  2. Thanks for that. It is often overlooked that so many things that can make life simpler and for people with disabilities to live lives independently can seem to be trite to non disabled people. I have been one who has looked at chopped fresh vegies and fruit and wondered why? I apologise. I knew about the plastic straws, especially the bending ones, making it simple for many.

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