Plastic bag ban goes into effect at stores across Long Island
If you're heading to the grocery store this week, make sure you don't forget your reusable bags.
New York's plastic bag ban went into effect across Long Island Monday.
The ban had been set for March 1, but was not enforced during an ongoing lawsuit filed by a local plastic bag maker, along with bodega owners.
The state won that lawsuit back in August, allowing for the "Bring Your Own Bag Law" to begin. The law allows a 5-cent fee for paper carry-out bags.
"The whole idea here is to change public behavior and that means just doing a little extra effort and bringing your own bag to the grocery store so that you're not buying paper, and now you're not allowed to use plastic," says Adrienne Esposito, with Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags each year for about 12 minutes, and most of them end up in a landfill.
The ban prohibits the use of plastic bags in shops and grocery stores, with the exception of bags used for fruits, vegetables and to wrap meat or fish. They can also still be used for restaurant takeout and to carry out prescription drugs.
In terms of using what is in store if you don't have reusable bags, Esposito says paper bags should be a last resort for shoppers.
"Paper bags do biodegrade but you have to chop down forests, so they also have an environmental footprint," she says.