EDITORIAL

Editorial: No more plastic bags, at all

Editorial Board
Posted 2/27/20

Not even for 5 cents.

As of March 1, the entirety of New York State is completely banning plastic carry-out bags. It’s estimated that more than 23 billion plastic bags are used statewide …

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EDITORIAL

Editorial: No more plastic bags, at all

Posted

Not even for 5 cents.

As of March 1, the entirety of New York State is completely banning plastic carry-out bags. It’s estimated that more than 23 billion plastic bags are used statewide each year. Plastic bags can be found littered on our streets, stuck in trees, spread across beaches and floating in the waterways. There is even documented evidence of harm to wildlife and habitats.

Consumers in Suffolk County were (rightfully) forced to consider Bring Your Own Bags, a movement toward reusable bag usage, after a local law required stores to charge customers a minimum fee of 5 cents back in January 2018.

But now, as of next week, plastic bags will be banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax — which leads us to just one major question: What will be done with all the surplus?

A local soup kitchen suggested it could use the plastic bag donations for the homeless to carry out food items. We think it’s a great idea to reuse something that is already produced, and soup kitchens can use any help they can get. What else would they do with the no-longer-usable bags? Throwing them out would be a bigger waste and larger harm to the environment than the intention of the law would be solving, at least in the short term.

About the law

The law applies to more than just grocery stores and includes retailers. If you forget to bring bags, most retailers will sell reusable bags. Paper might also be available, though some stores might not switch to paper and require the customer to bring a reusable bag or to purchase one.

However, cities and counties are authorized to adopt the 5-cent fee and apply it to the paper carry-out bags. (However, it does not apply to SNAP and WIC recipients.) Also, stores are still required to collect plastic bags for recycling.

The reusable bags not only look better but also work better. We suggest buying cotton or cloth bags, so they can be washed and repurposed for many uses around the house.

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