This week Governor of New York State Andrew Cuomo announced his support of a statewide ban of single-use plastic bags. If the bill is passed - single-use plastic bags would be outlawed as early as next year. So what does it mean and what side are you on? We are telling you everything you need to know.
In 2016 California approved a similar statewide ban on carry out plastic bags. They required consumers to pay a minimum of at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag at grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. Many customers in California have opted to bring their own reusable bags to cut cost which results in a far better environmental footprint for the nation.
Where did the plastic bag phenomenon begin?
A company in Sweden named Celloplast filed a U.S. patent in 1960 for a “tubing for packaging purposes” which one team member named Gustaf Sten stole. He used the bottom part of the tube and added handles to create a “T-shirt plastic bag” which ended up being what we know as plastic bags today. Flash forward to 1985 - customers continued to prefer paper bags but grocery stores were determined to integrate the plastic bag to cut costs. Eventually the plastic bag price became unbeatable and everyone gradually accepted the change.
A few statistics - the average American family uses roughly 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, they are used on average for about 12 minutes, and it takes 500+ years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. When we say degrade we really mean it breaks down into a toxic microplastic that will continue to pollute the air quality of the environment - which is obviously not great. Stats Source
So why not pass the bill?
Wegmans recently announced they didn’t support the statewide ban of plastic bags because they feel the focus should be on reduction and education for customers. They also feel the paper bag alternative is not what’s best for the environment saying, “Paper bags are heavier and take up more space; it takes seven tractor trailers to transport the same number of paper bags as plastic bags carried by one tractor trailer.” To the same token - Austin, TX restricted their use of plastic bags in 2011 but found an increase in heavy duty plastic bags that were considered “reusable” while they allowed for repeat use they can also negatively impact the environment. The main argument being banning plastic bags may not be the solution.
The bill may not be the answer, but it could be a starting point. With over 380 billion plastic bags being used by Americans each year there has to be a change of some kind. California has seen immense reductions in plastic trash since they initiated their ban on single use plastic bags back in 2016 and we have a theory. While heavy duty plastic, and paper bags may not be a great alternative the ban is forcing Americans to be confronted with a massive environmental problem that they may not have been aware of prior. When plastic bags are no longer an option - people are going to ask questions and that’s how the education begins.
As we become a more aware society, we will start to seek out the best environmental options which will hopefully be reusable totes and more bulk purchases to eliminate packaging waste.
Want to get ahead of the movement find your organic cotton reusable tote in the shop!
What do you think - pro ban, is it not enough, or do you think it should be the consumers choice? Let us know in the comments!