Moving Towards a Greener NYC With the 10-Cent Plastic Bag Fee

Didn't you learn the three R's? Reduce, reuse, recycle!

It’s about time that New York politicians address the overwhelming waste taking over the city. Last Wednesday the City Council proposed a bill that would charge customers 10-cents per plastic bag in an attempt to encourage New Yorkers to bring their own reusable bags. The fee would be applied to groceries, bodegas, street vendors, and retail stores. The few exemptions from the rule would be liquor stores, pharmacy prescriptions, and, of course, take-out orders and deliveries.

New Yorkers use over 5 billion plastic bags a year, costing the city upwards of $10 million to ship them all to landfills, and so for a city as dense and trash-filled as New York, it’s a wonder this proposal hasn’t taken hold sooner. Other cities such as DC, Seattle, and San Francisco (most of California actually) have already imposed the fee, but as one of the most trash-producing cities in the country, NYC is long overdue to join this movement.

Some complaints have risen from smaller business owners, worrying that a fee will keep customers away. Some critics have gone as far to claim that the ban “won’t make a significant impact on our environment” (uh, what?!). If the fee is citywide, what choice do consumers have but to pay the 10-cents, or just bring their own bag? Even better for small businesses, the ten cents isn’t a tax, but rather a profit for storeowners, selling plastic bags as if they’re any other product. So with significantly reduced waste and profits going straight back to businesses, we’re wondering why this is even up for debate.

So far the bill has support from 19 of the necessary 26 council members before it can be sent to Mayor de Blasio for approval. But the measure is gaining momentum among citizens too, with eco-groups like BagItNYC, who work with other organizations to provide information and resources to support the ban on plastic bags. There are plans to vote on the bill within the next few weeks, so here’s to a cleaner, less plastic-y New York. It’s time for BYOB (bring your own bag).

Follow Brie Roche-Lilliott on twitter @BrieRocheL

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