For some time now, many cities, states, and countries have been trying to find ways in order to help save the environment through reducing the use of plastics. One of the biggest offenders in this area (apart from plastic straws) is the use of plastic shopping bags. An easy remedy is to simply bring a reusable bag along, and the need for a plastic bag is eliminated completely. Now, New York is officially banning plastic bags
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a legislation that will mean single-use plastic bags will be banned. Now, businesses will be charging 5 cents if customers wish to place their purchases in a paper bag, otherwise they need to bring their own bags for the items. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, this legislation will begin to be enforced starting April 1st.
The rationale behind the new law is to reduce the amount of plastic bags used every year, which currently sits at about 23 billion per year. Yes, that’s billion with a ‘b.’ Cuomo’s office released a statement that introduced a state-wise campaign called “BYOBagNY” that will focus on outreach and education.
The governor said in the statement: “Right this minute, plastic bags are hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, filling up our landfills and polluting our lakes, rivers and streams — all hurting our environment. We took bold action to protect our environment and ban these environmental blights and with this campaign we’re going to make sure New Yorkers are ready and have all the facts.”
New York stores and shops are hurriedly preparing for the law and making changes accordingly. President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, Jim Calvin, said that the process hasn’t exactly been a smooth one.
He said: “The biggest problem right now is the shortage and rising cost of the paper bags that were supposed to be the inexpensive alternative to plastic for consumers who neglect to bring their own reusable bag.”
Calvin continued, “Come Sunday, there will be some stores without paper bags. The only choices for a customer who forgot a cloth bag will be to buy a reusable bag on site, which might cost $1 or more, or carry out their purchases in their arms, which makes a convenience store an inconvenience store.”
However, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Items that will still be allowed to be sold in plastic bags include prescription drugs, dry cleaning, and uncooked meat.
In order to help promote the change, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was seen in Union Square Park distributing reusable bags.