Plastic Bags are Banned in New York as of March 1st, Second Statewide Ban, After California. Nature is celebrating this news!
Plastic bags have blighted the environment and clogged the waterways and banning the plastic bags will protect natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers. New York’s ban will forbid stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags, which are nonbiodegradable and have been blamed for everything from causing gruesome wildlife deaths to thwarting recycling efforts.
Part of the new plan is a 5-cent fee on paper bags, revenue that would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers. While increased demand for paper bags in the wake of plastic bag bans could lead to more deforestation, most paper grocery bags in use today are made from recycled content, not virgin wood. Also, an added benefit of paper over petroleum-based plastic is its biodegradability.
There will still be plastic though: the ban exempts food takeout bags used by restaurants, bags used to wrap deli or meat counter products and bags for bulk items. Newspaper bags would also be exempted, as would garment bags and bags sold in bulk, such as trash or recycling bags.
What you can use instead of plastic bags: reusable and washable cloth bags, folding shopping carts, backpacks or cardboard boxes.
How plastic bags hurt the environment:
Did you know that 8 % of the litter observed in public sites, are plastic bags, including grocery bags. An estimated 1 to 3 percent of American plastic shopping bags wind up cluttering the environment outside of landfills. Even if they make it into the garbage, 100 billion bags take up space. Whether they’re stuck in a tree, floating in the breeze or sitting in a trash pile, these bags don’t decompose. They may be torn into small bits, but those pieces stick around a long time too: up to 1,000 years. Because they’re made from petroleum, toxic chemicals can seep into soil and water.
Plastic grocery bag pollution on land is troublesome, but in the water, it’s dangerous to animals. Sea turtles, marine mammals and fish confuse the bags with prey, such as jellyfish, and eat the plastic imposters. The bags fill up the stomach or digestive tract. Animals may not eat because they feel full, or the blockage may prevent the digestion of real food. In either case, ingestion of bags can lead to malnutrition, and eventually, starvation. Bags can also become caught on waterfowl or coral and wrap around the animals, causing injury or death.
Recycling is good for the environment because it keeps materials out of landfills. Although plastic grocery bags can be recycled, the United States recycles only about 2 percent. Even if bags are placed in curbside recycling bins, they’re so light that breezes can snatch them up and turn them into litter. If plastic bags do make it to recycling centers, they can cause problems. They’re not substantial enough to be separated from other recyclables by automated machinery, so the work must be done by hand. If bags are not separated properly, they jam machines and slow down the recycling process. These efforts may not even be worth the trouble, because the recycled plastic from bags is not in demand.
Plastic grocery bags add to environmental problems because they’re made from petroleum products, which are nonrenewable. Each year, twelve million barrels of oil are used to make bags for the United States alone. The process of drilling and accessing oil supplies upsets the local ecosystems. Emissions from the manufacture and transportation of bags contribute to global climate change.