Why People With Disabilities Want Bans On Plastic Straws To Be More Flexible

The plastic straw first appeared on the market in the 1950s. It was revolutionary for the restaurant industry that was used to offering paper straws. Paper straws often fell apart, causing clients to request several during a meal, and this was an expense that restaurant owners were willing to eliminate by switching to plastic.  


Other straws were available. These straws were made from rubber or metal and were hard to clean. These straws often led to harm because they retained too much heat for hot beverages. This was especially true for people with disabilities who relied on straws to consume their drinks.  


The plastic straw was a blessing for those with disabilities, especially the “bendy” straws that allowed you to keep your drink upright but bend the straw to drink. No one thought very much about these straws for decades. That is until now. Now, the plastic straw has become the target for environmentalists.  


Environmental Issues and Plastic Straws  


It all started with a YouTube video of a sea turtle that has a plastic straw in its nostril. Horrifying as that was, the environmentalists saw this as their rallying call to outlaw plastic straws. In a knee jerk reaction to this video, theme parks, restaurants, and entire cities began to ban plastic straws. Places like Seattle has made it against the law to give out plastic straws at any type of business establishment.  


However, there have been no provisions made for those who rely on these simple tools for drinking. Many people with disabilities cannot just gulp out of a glass. They need these straws to help them drink and stay hydrated. Having a straw can mean the difference between being able to drink independently or relying on help from another.  


The first reaction for everyone of why this question is posed is that people with disabilities should just bring a reusable straw. While this is a logical solution, people with disabilities are also only human, and human beings forget things when they leave the house.  


Protecting the environment is important. There is no denying that cause. However, people are just as important, and all people should be afforded the same type of considerations when they leave their home. If cities or states are going to ban plastic straws, provisions should be made that these businesses can have some on hand to offer someone in need should they forget their straws.  


The fight for the plastic straw may seem like something that is not important because its use is not critical to many people. But to those who need a straw to drink, having the right laws in place is crucial. 


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Please note: VAT is removed in the checkout process

In the UK, disabled people do not have to pay VAT when buying certain disability aids and services (This can be claimed by friend or family member purchasing on their behalf). Not everything supplied to disabled people is necessarily zero-rated for VAT. Goods and services on which you do not have to pay VAT are usually known as 'zero-rated' or 'eligible for VAT relief.

Who is eligible for VAT relief?

You must be 'chronically sick or disabled' to qualify for VAT relief. The HMRC comment on this is as follows. A person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they either:

VAT Relief on our Disability Aids

All products on the Aids for Mobility website are flagged with an option to claim VAT relief during Checkout if it applies to that item. When you add a zero-rated product or service to your Basket, you will be asked to tick a checkbox to confirm that you, or the person for whom you are buying the item, are eligible for VAT Relief.

How VAT relief works

If you are claiming VAT Relief you will be asked to complete an extra few questions during Checkout, where we will ask you to provide brief details of your disability and confirmation that the product is for 'personal or domestic use'. We will keep a record of this declaration along with your order details. You can then buy the product(s) in your Basket at a price that excludes VAT. You will be asked to make this declaration each time you place an order that includes zero-rated products. It is a legal requirement that we record this information for every order, and we apologise for the inconvenience.

More information from HMRC

You can find out more about VAT Relief for disabled people on the HM Revenue and Customs website. If you cannot find the answer to your questions there or would prefer to speak to an adviser, you can call their Helpline on 0845 302 02 03.

The helpline is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. (Closed weekends and bank holidays).