+

The Walt Disney Company is the latest company to hop on the plastic straw-free bandwagon.

Joining Starbucks and Marriott, Disney has said it will eliminate plastic straws, stirrers, and cups in its theme parks, cruise ships, and stores. The company said it will start phasing out the products by mid-2019 and expects to save 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers every year.

But here's the thing: There are major drawbacks to a total plastic straw ban.


First of all, straws don't really account for a large percentage of plastic waste. There are other items that cause way more harm to the environment: fishing nets, shopping bags, bottle caps, balloons, cigarette butts, and food wrappers, just to name a few.

But more importantly, it's actually critically important for disabled people to have access to single-use, flexible plastic straws. (Read why here.)

For a company that's known to foster inclusivity, accessibility, and creative imagination, a total plastic straw ban is a pretty tactless move — especially since there's so much else Disney can do.

Some consider Disney's decision to ban straws hypocritical considering that some water rollercoasters at its theme parks offer plastic bags for riders to put their personal belongings in.

There are plenty of other impactful ways Disney can reduce plastic waste without negatively affecting disabled people.

1. There's no reason to ban plastic straws completely when Disney could just cut down on their use.

The company could order fewer straws and instead of handing them out to every customer by default, provide straws to those who ask for them.

2. There are many things Disney could ban instead of straws.

Many of the other plastic items found at Disney theme parks are far more harmful to the environment than single-use straws. Instead of straws, Disney could ban plastic utensils — one of the most common items found in California landfills — from their establishments and replace them with alternatives that are either reusable or compostable.

3. Disney could set up lockers instead of handing out plastic bags for riders to stash their personal belongings in.

Disney recently announced that Ziploc is the new official sponsor of Splash Mountain, which can seat up to 1,500 riders per hour, as well as Epcot's Kidcot Fun Stops. That's a lot of bags — and a lot of harm to the ocean. Plastic bags are also a land hazard because they can take up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.

4. Disney could halt the production and/or sales of balloons.

Balloon litter has tripled in the past three years, according to Balloon Blows, a nonprofit dedicated to balloon reduction. While some states have already introduced laws that prevent people from releasing balloons in the air, it's not a law that's easy to enforce. That's why one of the most effective ways Disney can help curb balloon littering is by simply refusing to sell them.

Make no mistake: Disney is taking commendable steps toward becoming a more environmentally conscious company.

But we can all work together to clean and save our planet without harming people in our own communities.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less