Plastic Pleurisy Part Poo 💩

Reading Time: 4 minutes
The war on plastic is real, it’s escalating. Humans are devising new ways to tackle the ever growing problem that is plastic. We are recycling more, we have discovered plastic eating insects,
We’ve deployed barriers across rivers to catch plastic, we have sophisticated tractor dragged rakes to pick up the plastic on our beaches. However, we really should be cutting down on the production of plastic, and the only real way to impact that is to stop using it.
Hence the logic behind banning some plastic convenience items, such as straws that was featured in my last article on the subject, Plastic Pleurisy.
Now the newest great idea is to ban wet wipes. There has been a bit of an uproar from parents on the issue, there’s many articles that share parents concerns. But do I even need to mention the needs of the disabled? Yes, it seems I do.
Now, you’ve a wee baby and how gross to imagine carrying about a wet rag you’ve just used to clean up a really dirty nappy. Now imagine that baby is a grown adult. Are you still carrying about that cloth? No, no you are not, it’s probably binned. Adding to the every growing number tonnes of rubbish in our dumps.
Double incontinence is a concern for many disabled people who want to go out in public, wet wipes are a necessity. Not a convenience. Yes wet wipes shouldn’t be flushed, and they are causing huge fatbergs in sewer systems around the country.
What is a fatberg? It is a huge build up of mass in a sewer that is caused by things that aren’t meant to be flushed down the loo. There was a whole program about it, where they dissected one, if you want to physically balk when you watch tv then its not hard to find the link online. But here in Scotland we have adverts on tv telling us how our water systems work and regularly advertise what and what not to put down the loo. I think education is a better alternative than flat out bans.
The needs of disabled folk are quickly becoming afterthought in Tory tokenistic environmental policy, and it’s the afterthought that irks me so much. But that’s to be expected from a party who’s welfare reform can be called nothing else than a bureaucratic attack on the sick and disabled citizens of their own country. What’s surprising and depressing tho is the ableist responses from the general public;
Apart from the clearly ableist commentary, the backlash is growing against parents who know what disabled/changing room facilities are like. (Let’s be honest, they are usually one and the same.) There is no bidet and they almost always already smell of poo. There is the cries of “what did you do before wet wipes existed?” and that is true, I asked my 77 year old mum what she used to use, she told me a natural sponge, however there wasn’t many public changing facilities. And of course, babies were in natural terry towelling nappies. As for disabled folk, well my mother recalls seeing the first public disabled toilet in the 70’s, before then disabled folk were rarely seen out. Most likely ostracised from their communities and societies for reeking of pish.
Sometimes disabled folk are stuck in bed, and besides the uncomfortableness of a bed bath, it’s quite humiliating to have someone else clean your private parts. There’s a dignity some folk don’t even have the privilege of having. I’m not going to go down the line of telling you all about catheters, digital stimulation of bowels, adult diapers and other toilet stuff, I’m gonna guess you also go to the loo, you know sometimes you get a dodgy tummy, I’m sure I don’t need to go into the details of why a packet of wet wipes is an essential item in a bug out bag for any disabled person.
What I am gonna do however is talk about actual non essential plastics. Things that no-one needs whatsoever and is a waste of plastic.
No 1. Balloons, now my mum says I’m a party pooper for this one, but really what is a balloon for? Those plastic foil, usually filled with helium (which by the way is in short supply and essential for running MRI machines) and attached to a plastic string. We blow them up and give them for celebrations where they are put in a corner to slowly deflate and wilt away, only to be flung in the bin or they float away still filled with precious gases and end up in the ocean anyway.
No 2. Plastic wrap on things made of plastic. If plastic is so durable it can stay in our environment for centuries, and won’t break down naturally then how come we need to wrap up plastic garden chairs in plastic cling film? That seems a real waste of plastic.
No 3. Plastic coffee stirrers. Apart from the fact you can stir your coffee with practically anything else, why do we have little strips of plastic in the billions, available next to plastic pots of milk and sugar at many a coffee shop and canteen?
So there are three other plastic things, totally unessential to anybody. Total frivolous waste of plastic, plastic that will probably end up in our oceans. I want to tackle plastic pollution as much as any other tree hugging environmentalist. I want to save our planet, it’s the only one we have. Mother Nature is my deity and I don’t want to offend her, but I am so sick of bearing the brunt of powerful people’s decisions. Please think before you ban plastic products that of are real use in making disabled people’s lives easier. We don’t want a return to hiding in institutions, hospitalised indefinitely and made to feel ashamed to go out in public. I obviously don’t speak for all disabled folk, but I speak as a human who was once fully abled bodied. I never expected to suddenly soil myself in Ikea, I didn’t know some student nurse would give me a bed bath when I had my periods in hospital.
And that is the other thing, this ban of wet wipes is also classist. Imagine being homeless or having no access to hot water. How could you stay clean? What if it happened to you? We are all human beings, we all have to take responsibility, that is true. But can we just think of each other before we start banning stuff?

Plastic Pleurisy

Reading Time: 4 minutes
So I stumbled across a twitter thread today, quite innocuous but linked to a vital and important issue. Plastic straws. Now I know we have all seen that awful video of the poor turtle with the straw up his nose, but in case you haven’t…
Here at ungagged we try really hard to support all environmental campaigns, and reducing plastics in our oceans is just one of the many causes we ran on our activist advent calendar. I personally recycle as much as I can and try to ensure I buy products with environmentally friendly packaging when I can. We have 5 recycling bins including a food waste bin, as I suspect many of you guys have at home too.
It was recently suggested we would have to increase our recycling capabilities as we brexited the European Union, so it’s no surprise that the government has encouraged companies trying to cut down on unnecessary plastic products across the board.
One of these very admirable moves include banning plastic cotton buds. Replacing them with a biodegradable paper poled cotton bud. The other announcement was from multiple retailers and companies themselves, the banning of plastic straws.
Following the news that Scotland intends to ban single use plastic straws by the end of 2019, several restaurants were keen to tweet that they were ahead of the curve
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There is a campaign called The Final Straw Scotland and there’s a video you can see here…
Now, I really don’t have a problem with companies restricting the amount of straws they stock, I don’t even have a problem with biodegradable alternatives that work. What I object to is being told, as a disabled person who regularly needs a straw to be able to drink, that I can buy my own metal alternative or the company supply a reusable washed one.
Oh. My. Gods! Yukkers *vom emoji* 🤢🤮

 

So first off, never mind the blatantly obvious fact some disabled folk have upper limb impairment which means it can be difficult to hold cups and glasses. Yes we usually have our own drinks container, often with special handles or grips and built in straws, but most of the time the straw has 3 day old water in it or some disgusting electrolyte powder residue from that time you had the skits. And like we are all aware some disabled folk are more prone to disease and infection, and myself having an autoimmune disorder, I don’t really fancy drinking out a “washed”, “communal” straw. I’ve seen dishwashers in bars.
Now the tone of this article is gonna drastically change. If you cant interpret the point I’m digging at then I probably can’t help you past this stage.
  • Numero uno!

Before you comment on why doesn’t a disabled person just buy a metal or wooden straw, or use a paper straw, answer this. Do you have one of those bamboo toothbrushes? Have you recently measured the mould growth? Do you carry around your own cutlery EVERY time you grab a coffee? Oh you don’t use a straw to drink hot drinks? That’ll be why you think paper straws are the perfect solution.

  • B)

99% of my mobility aids contains some sort of plastic. My wheelchair has plastic trim, my crutches half plastic. I have a plastic pirate themed orthotic brace for my foot. I have a plastic bath seat. I have a plastic toilet stool (not my stool, that’s organic. Hashtag: poo emoji 💩)I have a plastic gripper grabber, plastic fans, plastic pads, plastic sheets (sometimes). You cannot plastic guilt trip a disabled person. Most of our furniture is plastic. It’s not a style choice like some funky 70’s LA interior design magazine or hipster Bakelite revival.

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Not a hipster fashion item
  • Section iii.)

Telling a disabled person they can carry a straw about with them or trying to tell them how they can best adapt to their own disabilities, is a bit fucking stupid. No one know’s a disabled person’s capabilities and adaptabilities better than the disabled person themselves, or their primary carer. Swallowing can be an issue for some disabled people. People with physical disabilities and mental/neuro disorders alike. Just cos you have a granny with arthritis doesn’t mean you know what’s best for Tam’s C1 spinal cord injury and resulting impairment. With all your best intentions, just gonnae no?

  • Part IV)

A disabled person most likely has a kit, a bug out bag if you will. I have medicine, patches, pads, a tool kit, a water bottle (aforementioned star wars container with Jedi grip), spare clothes, waterproofs, a hand pump, and a scarf (to double as a blanket) all in the back of my wheelchair. I also have to remember my phone, my wallet, my disabled parking badge, my crutch, my keys, my bag for life and my trolley coin token thing cos there is no way I have a pound coin cash, and you want me to remember to take a straw so you feel better about the banning of plastics? No bother I’ll just die of thirst in the supermarket queue while the lassie helps to pack my 20 PLASTIC bags for life. Not only does remembering such a shitload of stuff impact my cognitive issues, it can be stressful and expensive.

Remembering a wee straw might not seem like a big deal, especially if it’s something you need. It might not even seem expensive. Buy a multipack from the pound shop eh? But when being disabled is already costing a premium, and putting barriers in way of our independence, a small insignificant drinking tube seems trivial. But when you sometimes have to ask for a key to the toilet, plead for access to a ramp, be reassessed on congenital and progressive disorders, a wee straw feels like the final straw.
  • Lastly;

please don’t take this article too seriously. If you want to find out more please go check out the amazing work @jamieszymko is doing in highlighting the issue.

Please don’t be an ableist jerk and think before you tweet.
And please don’t get me started on the issue of pre-chopped vegetables. That involves knives. *angry emoji* 😡
Get in touch, get ungagged! @_Ungagged

12 Days of Christmas- Day 11

Reading Time: 1 minute

Today’s 12 Days of Christmas challenge is arguably the most challenging, but we are sure you can do it.

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Did you know that in the top 10 of UK’s most endangered species are hedgehogs, turtle doves, red squirrels but also that 6 out of the 10 are in fact insects?

Insects play a vital role in our ecosystem. Not only providing food for our birds and other small mammals, but also pollinating plants, trees and grasses.

The most vital insect in this process is of course the bee. Honey Bees, wild and domestic perform around 80% of the planet’s pollination. The humble bee is facing great challenges right now. Whole hives decimated by disease. Bee keepers in the US reporting up to 50% losses. They need our help.

By protecting the environment and habitat of these wild animals, we can help them survive and thrive as us humans encroach ever further into their spaces, so today we are asking you to plant something to help feed our insect friends.

You don’t have to have a lot of money or a lot of space to plant something. If you have some outdoor space, order some free seeds online, save a sapling that will otherwise be cut down or crushed by traffic,or plant some bulbs. If you have no outdoor space, you can still grow things in pots – even old margarine tubs will do – on your windowsill. You can grow herbs to use in your kitchen, or bulbs to grow as gifts for next spring. You’ll get the satisfaction of nurturing something, and our creepy-crawly friends will thank you for it.

12 Days of Christmas- Day 9

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On the 9th Day of Christmas Ungagged are bringing the focus back to your local community.

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Another nice easy one to do today,  and it really will make at least your little corner of the world a nicer place.

Wherever you are going today, whether you’re off to work or to the shops, on the school run, or even just taking a little walk down your street, take a bag with you and pick up any rubbish you see lying about the place. It doesn’t matter that it’s not your rubbish, it’s your community.

This is another of those small acts that can have a large impact. You won’t only be improving the look and feel of your community, and reducing the impact of human wastefulness on your local wildlife, but you may also inspire others to do the same, or shame litterers  into taking their trash home for recycling in future. Either way you’ll get to go to bed tonight knowing you did a good thing.

12 Days of Christmas- Day 2

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Continuing our 12 Days of Christmas- 12 little ways you can make the world a better place.

received_10210397952773897.jpegBet you’ve got a whole house full of cardboard boxes and plastic packaging now, haven’t you? I know I have– plastic wrapped around wrapping paper and christmas cards, all the usual plastic packaging around our fruit and veg but supersized because we have to get enough food to feed an army, just in case. And dont get me started on plastic toys imprisoned in plastic packaging with plastic cable ties all wrapped in cellophane. Do toy manufacturers think that Barbie is going to escape from her box and run off with Darth Vader or something?

Having so much packaging is annoying for us, but it is deadly for our marine life. Plastic doesn’t dissolve in the oceans, it floats around until it becomes microgranules or is ingested by marine life. There’s currently over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. It’s poisoning our fish, choking sea turtles and being ingested by dolphins who can’t digest it, so with their stomachs full, they starve. Festive, huh?

Luckily, there is lots you can do to help. From the simple things like taking a reusable shopping bag out with you, reusing or recycling whenever you can and even giving up rubbish bags in favour of tipping your waste directly into the wheelie bin to save on plastic getting into landfill sites.

If you have children you can reuse plastic bottles in all sorts of ways, by making them into bird feeders, bath toys or using them for junk modelling. If you don’t have children, pop into your local nursery or primary school and ask if they need any donations of clean bottles or boxes or plastic tubs for their arts and crafts lessons.

There are entire islands of plastic in our oceans. Luckily there is a fantastic organisation called The Ocean Cleanup which is working tirelessly to remove the plastic from our oceans and protect our marine life. Visit their site for info on how they are fighting to protect our oceans, and scroll to the bottom of the page to see how you can help, and where to donate to the organisation.

12 Days of Christmas – Day 1

Reading Time: 1 minute

It’s the first day of Christmas and we’ll be marking the next 12 days with little ways you can carry the festive spirit on by making the world just a tiny bit better.

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The birds in your garden are cold this time of year as well, and food can be hard to come by. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to help get our feathered friends through the winter though. The RSPB has some brilliant advice on what to feed the birds in your garden here.

In the winter months birds can find it hard to find fresh water too, so don’t forget to leave them a drink as well.

If you’d like to do even more to help,you could do some of your January Sales shopping through  Songbird Survival – a charity that commisions research into Britain’s declining songbird population. Or you could become a member of the RSPB for £4 per month. Perhaps the ideal Alternative New Years Resolution? Very little effort so nice and easy to stick to, you’ll get a quarterly magazine and unlimited entry to over 100 nature reserves in the UK, and you’ll get that warm feeling of knowing you’ve helped protect our garden birds.  You can sign up or find  out more here.

 

 

Let us know on twitter or Facebook the #SmallActs you are doing over the 12 days to make your world a little brighter