By Sarah Brill, Sci-Tech Editor
After a continuous struggle to keep our planet clean, New York State, along with California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont, as well as some parts of New Jersey, have implemented a plastic bag ban, and with good reason. Currently 100 billion plastic bags are used and 6.4 million tons of bags end up in our oceans on average each year. That is enough bags to circle the Earth 1,330 times. The law, which has caused much upset despite the month-long warning issued in February, prohibits any store-front that pays NYS taxes to distribute bags to its customers. In accordance with this law, universities are unable to order plastic bags for take-out, and students are required to either carry their food or bring their own bags.
Reusable bags have been sold in supermarkets for a very long time, yet no consumers felt the urge to buy their bags, due to a lack of interest or disinterest in spending unnecessary funds. Now, when there is a ban placed on plastic bags, users are forced to spend money to buy reusable ones. Here’s the caveat: if you are a hoarder of plastic bags, that works! You are allowed to use your old plastic bags in order to purchase your items. However, it is recommended that a reusable bag be used in place of plastic bags sometime in the future, as they are environmentally friendly.
There are, though, exceptions to the law. For prescription drugs, a plastic bag may be distributed to the customer to maintain privacy of the user if they have forgotten their reusable bag. Plastic bags may also be used when dealing with vegetables and fruits to reduce contamination.
At Stern College, many disgruntled students opposed the idea of removing the widely-used plastic bags from the cafeterias. It does make things more difficult. Now students who are buying products for Shabbat and lunch have to carry their items, but keep in mind that you have a backpack! Additionally, and most importantly, you are contributing to the welfare of our planet and helping reduce the 23 billion plastic bags littered in NYS alone, one-eighth of the world’s total, and Stern College is not exempt from that number. So the next time you are in the cafeteria and feel a pinch of annoyance as you notice you have to carry your sushi and salad, just know you are helping keep a clean planet so that we may live here for years to come.