Banned Bags

March 13, 2020
REUSE IT A store clerk helps a customer pack a reusable bag in New York City, where a ban on plastic bags is in effect.
EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ—GETTY IMAGES

A ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect in New York State on March 1. New York is one of several states to forbid stores from handing out plastic bags at checkout. California was the first. Many cities and counties across the country have put in place similar laws.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the ban last year. “For far too long, these bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways,” he said.

Officials say the ban will make people more aware of their shopping habits. Until now, New Yorkers used 23 billion plastic bags each year. The litter is harmful to birds and marine animals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says some communities spend $1 million each year cleaning up litter. Much of it is plastic grocery bags.

Starting April 1, New York businesses could pay up to $500 for breaking the law. Paper bags are still allowed. But they may cost shoppers 5¢ each.

New York State leaders say people should keep reusable bags handy in their car or backpack. For small purchases, shoppers can help the environment by saying “No, thank you” to a paper bag. They can carry the item instead.

Stop and Think! Why might news about a law in one state be of interest to people across the country? Could such a story influence other states to pass a similar law? Why or why not?