UN Wants People With Disabilities In Fight Against Climate Change, Meet Z: Disabled Climate Change Warrior, Skip The Straw Lebanon, Montgomery County, Md Enacts Its Own “Skip The Straw” Bill

by | May 27, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

UN wants people with disabilities in fight against climate change, plus meet Z: disabled climate change warrior. Skip The Straw Lebanon, and Montgomery County, MD passes its own “Skip The Straw” bill.



A recent report released by the United Nations General Assembly, Human Rights Council makes clear what disabled rights advocates have been saying for years— Poverty, discrimination and stigma are key components that affect the exposure of persons with disabilities to the impacts of climate change. Intersecting factors include gender, age, ethnicity, geography, migration, religion and sex .These all  impact their health, food security, housing, water and sanitation, livelihoods and mobility. Recommendations include:

-Taking more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation action to limit the impacts of climate change on all persons, including on persons with disabilities

-Secure the meaningful, informed and effective participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in climate change mitigation and adaptation at all levels

Some incremental examples include:

-Finland is ensuring the accessibility of web pages with information on climate change. The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication has prepared a video in sign language and text on the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

-The Gaibandha model in Bangladesh aims to build disability-inclusive resilience in response to flooding, with interventions at the household, community and municipal level by the international development organization CBM. 

-CARE India installed raised hand pumps that are accessible to persons with disabilities to ensure that they would continue to be operational during flooding. 

-Niger’s “survival yard” programme, CBM  the non-governmental organization Karkara work together with persons with disabilities, their families and communities to create resilience.

We at The Climate Daily are going to spotlight some disabled climate change activists in the coming days, beginning immediately after this break.

DEEPER DIVE: UN Human Rights, Human Rights Watch



If you’ve ever seen the hashtags, #chubbyplantspaceman and #WhyIWriteClimate, they refer to ZMKF, also known as Z, a nonbinary, disabled writer and artist, with an appreciation for science and nature. Z identifies as a writer & fighter for Earth, ADHDer, City planning nerd. 

Z is also Deputy Director of the Science and Tech department at One Up Action, a climate justice organization dedicated to environmental improvement in economically disadvantaged communities and to funding research that unprivileged youth might not be able to pursue without support. Z is also a member of Polluter’s Out’s JEDI group & Co-founder of Operation: Oceanfixer.

Z began a career in climate action with the group Zero Hour and learned how to be a good organizer. Z adds, “The time spent at Zero Hour taught me patience, trust, forgiveness, and what it means to maintain socially professional behavior throughout complicated situations.”

And this is why you want to know about ZMKF. Even though being a disabled climate change warrior may mean advocating online only, and not in the field, Z’s message for able-bodied folks is not to patronize those disabled who can do their work in the field, albeit at a different pace.

Z says, “Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re lesser for feeling different or operating differently than others. We need everyone in this movement, and that includes you.”

Thank you, Climate champion, ZMKF!!

DEEPER DIVE: Shondaland, Z, Follow the Path



Speaking of bad mofos, you really want to know about Aya Abu Alfa, a young woman who founded Skip the Straw Lebanon. Skip the Straw Lebanon is an environmental campaign aimed at eliminating the use of plastic straws in restaurants and cafes in Lebanon.

Aya was inspired to start Skip the Straw Lebanon after she viewed a video online of a California woman who convinced her colleagues to stop using plastic straws and, after gaining enough traction, then created a campaign to make plastic straws illegal across the state.

Aya didn’t take action until she happened across a glass straw vendor in her hometown. That’s when she realized banning plastic straws throughout Lebanon might be possible. She bought a glass straw, and the rest is history.

And that’s the key to her success and that’s why Aya Abu Alfa and Skip the Straw Lebanon matter to us. Aya goes beyond demanding the end of plastic straws, she offers stores and restaurants alternatives to help them get to “yes” and to an equitable transition. I directly collaborate with restaurants and cafés to help them switch to plastic-free alternatives and provide them with a ‘We Skip the Plastic Straw’ door sticker (made of recycled paper) once they have made the switch – as a way to show their customers their dedication to the environment.

Aya even started a petition to the Ministry of Environment to ban plastic straws across Beirut, which has now garnered more than 48,000 signatures. If you want to support her, you can sign Aya’s petition by clicking on the link in our deeper dive section. 

DEEPER DIVE: SkipTheStraw Petition



The Montgomery County Executive and County Council have enacted Council Bill 32-20. 

And what is THAT, you might ask…

Council Bill 32-20 reduces unnecessary waste by requiring restaurants and food service businesses that serve beverages to provide straws to dine-in customers only upon request.  This bill further requires that straws provided be either reusable or made from only marine degradable or home compostable materials. This initiative will help to reduce the amount of waste created, eliminate problematic non-recyclable plastics, and reduce litter.

Effective May 1, 2021, a restaurant may not provide a straw to a dine-in customer, except upon request by a customer, or if the straws are in a self-serve dispenser. Straws provided for take-out, delivery, and drive-thru sales may be provided as usual.

Effective December 21, 2021, food service businesses must post information that straws will no longer be provided to a customer, with exceptions, and that only reusable, home compostable, or marine-degradable straws will be provided to a customer AND only upon the customer’s request.

These same types of straws will be provided in a self-serve straw dispenser and to customers who order food for carryout, delivery, or drive-thru sales.

DEEPER DIVE: Bill 32-20, Montgomery County Gov. MyMCMedia