Goodbye, bags. Thanks for the litter.

It’s a big deal: New York state has banned plastic bags. The ban will take effect next March.

So, prepare to say goodbye to bags in the trees, bags in the gutter grates, bags in the park, bags on the beach, bags tangled around a pigeon’s leg. We’ve had a good run plastic bags (have we?), and we’ll be left with the memories for at least 1,000 years (because you can’t disintegrate), but your time is up.

Well, almost. The ban excludes take-out bags, garbage bags, and a few other various and sundry. But it’s a start. And long overdue.

Four or five years ago, I wrote my city councilperson about a city-wide ban on plastic bags. She refused to consider a proposal because she said a ban would put a strain on low-income constituents. It’s a problem that has a solution, of course, and I’m glad to see that this new state-wide ban foresees it by allowing counties to adopt a 5¢ fee on paper bags, the proceeds of which would go toward buying reusable bags for consumers. Nevertheless, others have walked this path before us, including high-poverty Hawaii, so there are plenty of examples to help inform New York’s new efforts. In other words: Yes, it’s possible to alleviate poverty and stop making unsound environmental choices. In fact, not only is it possible, but it’s necessary, too.

Read more about the plastic bag ban at The New York Times.


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