At the end of 2013, the New York City Council passed a law that bans the use of styrofoam deli and take-out containers in New York City. This is big! You know that the manufacturers were lobbying real hard to defeat the bill but they lost anyway. In 2014, there will be a push to impose a ten cent fee on all thin plastic shopping bags in New York City. Similar fees have recently passed in many cities across the country. The chances for the bill passing this year are thought to be good. A major component of the bill would be community outreach to hand out thousands of free reusable shopping bags and to educate people about the dangers of using plastic shopping bags.
All of us have seen pictures of the plastic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Actually, there are many plastic garbage patches in the oceans because they don’t biodegrade, but they degrade enough to break up into small pieces that appear to be food to ocean creatures which swallow them and get asphyxiated as a result. The idea of the proposed bill in New York City is that if people have to pay every time they go shopping, sooner or later, they will start bringing their own reusable bag to the store with them.
There is a coalition of environmental organizations working on the bill that would impose a fee on plastic shopping bags called Bag It NYC. You can learn more about the bill at www.bagitnyc.org.