Personal Thoughts on the Plastic Bag Ban

By: Talya Stehley  |  March 22, 2020
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By Talya Stehley, Staff Writer

On March 1, 2020, the state of New York became the eighth state to ban single-use plastic bags. 

California, where I’m from, passed a similar ban back in 2016 (though Los Angeles had already banned them back in 2014). Some people were upset, and even many people who agreed with the ban in theory still had to adjust to the change. Granted, I was in high school and in a position where if I did go grocery shopping, I could swallow the extra ten cents when I forgot to bring a reusable bag (which was always). 

Israel banned plastic bags in 2017, and while I grew in a lot of ways in seminary, I did not grow in my ability to remember to bring my own bag to the grocery store. So by the time I got to YU, I considered free plastic bags to be a cool perk to living in New York City. And now they’ve banned plastic bags again. 

From my perspective, it’s not a big deal. Maybe I’ll finally use that pile of bags in my dorm room, but probably not. Like I said, I’m forgetful. Though the New York ban looks a little different from the ones in other places I’ve lived: in both California and Israel, you can still buy (slightly thicker) bags at the checkout, the New York ban doesn’t allow for this, instead allowing retailers to sell paper bags. These paper bags are to be sold for five cents (as opposed to the ten-cent fee for a plastic bag in California), but this fee will be waived for people receiving SNAP or WIC assistance.

Though they can be inconvenient, I think these bans are a good thing. It wigs me out to know that the plastic that surrounds me on a daily basis will outlive me by several orders of magnitude, so less of that seems like a good thing. Though this ban is different than other ones I’ve seen, in a year from now it will have faded into the background of ordinary life. People will have adjusted their routines, unless they’re like me, in which case I’ll note that you can probably fit, like, six boxes of Wacky Mac in the front pocket of the YU Macs pullover hoodie.

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