Unless you are not a big fan of social media, you have probably heard about the Whole Foods pre-peeled orange kerfuffle. If you haven't though, let me describe the problem for you: Whole Foods got into a whole heap of trouble on social media recently because some of its stores sold peeled oranges in small plastic containers. This tempest in a teapot was started by people who, understandably, questioned why it wasn't left in the packaging Mother Nature had already provided, I.E., the peel. I'll admit, when I first saw the picture even I thought it was odd. Whole Foods quickly caved to the outcry and promised to take the environmentally unfriendly product off the shelves. Problem solved, right? Not quite. This was when the disability community rightly pointed out that those pre-peeled oranges are extremely helpful to people with a variety of physical challenges.
Well, shut my mouth. I should have thought of that myself, considering that my eldest daughter is one of the very people who have trouble peeling oranges. Isn't it interesting how if you just adjust the settings a little, you can see things from a whole different point of view? I read a thought-provoking follow-up to this where it was posited that all too often people fail to recognize the unintended benefits of products for the disability community. In this case, it is unclear whether the stores in question were doing this for the benefit of the disability community, yet that community undoubtedly would have reaped the rewards. The same is true for a variety of other, more main-stream products, such as Velcro-strapped shoes, Velcro closured lunchbags (in fact, Velcro anything), and leggings (even better, the jeggings that have become so popular).
Even so, many of the environmentalists who responded to the disability community complained that you couldn't sacrifice the environment to make things "easier" for people with disabilities. As if. Still, I struggle with this in my own decision-making at times. For example, it would be a lot easier for my daughter (and me) if I bought bottled waters to keep on hand, rather than helping her with filling and carrying a glass of water each time she is thirsty. Yet every time I think of purchasing them, I worry about the environmental impact of that decision. Where do we draw the line? For that matter, why is it that the same people who are making an outcry about those oranges are not protesting the other cut fruit available in the containers? (Not that I'm encouraging them to do so.) The point is that we all make choices about what we're able to live with and sometimes we have to consider that there are other, equally legitimate points of view. Perhaps instead of spending so much time protesting and bickering back and forth, people should use their environmental know-how to come up with packaging that is both environmental and disability friendly? Food for thought (no pun intended). If you are interested in more food for thought, you can sign up to get an alert by email every time I publish! Until next time, y'all have a good one!