If you’ve turned on the news recently you might have seen someone running around with their hands in the air yelling “THE SKY IS FALLING” because of the plastic bag ban taking effect on March 1, 2020. I think we’re going to be ok, here’s why.

First off, a little background.

New York State uses not 1, not 2, but 23 billion plastic bags every single year. As you can imagine, that doesn’t do the local ecosystem any favors at all.

Sure, plastic bags are handled and handy, but is that really worth it? I don’t think so, and nor does Albany (where New York’s Government voted on this ban).

What’s included in the New York plastic bag ban?

It’s a little easier to think about what’s not included because turns out, there are lots of types of plastic bags.

What’s not included:

  • Bags for uncooked meat and produce;
  • Prescription drug bags;
  • Takeout bags from restaurants;
  • Laundry bags (and dry-cleaning bags);
  • Trash bags;
  • Any bag sold in bulk (seems a little vague, Legislation)

Realistically, it’s supermarkets where you’ll notice it the most, and your local bodega will be limited in how they can help you. If you purchase something from a store, it better come in paper (see below) or you could try your pockets!

Penalties if you use a bag

So there’s no penalty if you do receive a bag but the store you got it from faces a $250 fine for the first offense and $500 for everyone after that.

Are paper bags included?

A little bit, yes.

There is now a 5c price required on all paper bags, and 3 cents of that goes to the Environmental Protection Fund, and 2 cents goes to marketing reusable bags.

Where can I get a reusable bag

Well, you could buy one from all sorts of stores or from Amazon, or alternatively you could get a free one from the Department of Sanitation! There are events happening all over the city and you can find the closest one to you, here.

More information on what to look for and where to get them is available on New York State’s website!