The State of New York is poised to ban all single-use plastic bags shopping bags in the state. Last weekend Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the states new budget law “includes legislation to ban single-use, plastic bags provided to customers and allows counties and cities to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 40 percent of the revenue supporting local programs to buy reusable bags for low and fixed income consumers, and 60 percent of the revenue supporting programs in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.”
- CNN reported that the law contains a few exceptions for plastic carryout bags, dry cleaning and plastic bags for fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
- The only other state with a similar ban is California, but Hawaii effectively has one too because every county there bans plastic bags.
- On average the life of a plastic bag is twelve minutes, and each year billions of plastic bags are thrown away in New York.
Some residents of New York were not sure how they would make up for the loss of plastic bags. Many people there, especially low-income residents, re-use these bags for trash or recycling, to store things, or to carry other items like their lunch in order to save money.
Why This Matters: Many people interviewed by the New York Times worried about the adjustment the bag ban will require, but most also recognized that we had become too dependent on plastic and that eliminating these bags is much more sustainable. So there will be some kvetching, but we are sure that New Yorkers will adapt. The Times quoted Nana Yaw, a 57-year-old sidewalk vendor from Ghana who has used only paper bags for years. “It’s important for the vendors to be into this, too — that’s how this part of the industry will change,” Yaw said. “And as for the customers, as long as you give them something to carry their things, they will take it.”