When it comes to bagging groceries, some supermarkets can be a bit over-zealous, double- and sometimes even triple-bagging groceries. And no matter how many totes and reusable grocery bags one might own (we have approximately 12,476), they're rendered useless when you accidentally leave them at home.
Starting March 2020, the consequences of forgetting those bags will get a little more serious for New York state residents. New York just signed off on a budget bill that includes a ban on single-use plastic bags.
When New York legislators rallied behind Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed ban last week, the New York Times reported that the proposed ban would prevent stores from giving customers the single-use plastic bags that have infamously come to represent our most unsustainable habits. The ban does not, however, stop restaurants from using them for deliveries, or ban bags used for deli meat-wrapping, garment bags, newspaper bags, or trash/recycling bags bought in bulk.
Additionally, retailers can choose to provide paper bags for a 5-cent fee, the proceeds from which will go to the Environmental Protection Fund and to supplying consumers with reusable bags. Critics of the ban, including members of the State Assembly, have voiced concern that a 5-cent fee will "act as a regressive tax on poor consumers," as the Times puts it.
New York is only the second state to ban plastic bags, following California, which banned them in 2016. Hawaii does not have an official statewide ban, but every county in the state outlawed plastic bags in 2018, with Honolulu shoppers paying a 15-cent fee for each reusable compostable plastic bag. And despite being in the midst of a crushing economic depression, Puerto Rico enforced a ban back in 2015.
As the Times reported, when Suffolk country enforced a similar ban in January, it saw an 80% decrease in plastic bag use.