As Plastic Bag Ban Gets Set to Start, Three Ways to Get a Free Reusable Bag and More Information

Plastic bags are banned in New York state as of March 1, meaning stores won’t be carrying them for customers to take their items home. To help New Yorkers prep for the ban, some local politicians are holding bag giveaway events in the coming days.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal will be in Verdi Square at 72nd and Broadway on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon to educate people and hand out reusable bags. She’ll be joined by environmental groups and others to answer questions about the ban. If it rains, then twill be held at Rosenthal’s office, 230 West 72nd Street.

Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell will hold another bag giveaway on March 7 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m? outside the 96th Street subway station at Broadway. “The Department of Sanitation will be there to also answer questions about setting up a composting program in your building.”

The Department of Sanitation will also send you a bag in the mail if you “pledge zero waste.”

NEWS | 43 comments | permalink
    1. Sherman says:

      This is a very stupid policy.

      Since plastic bags are banned from being distributed in stores people will simply buy plastic bags to dispose of their trash.

      So there will still be plastic in landfills even with this ban. If anything, this ban leads to more waste as stores have to provide paper bags and consumers will be buying plastic bags.

      Furthermore, this will hurt consumers as they now have to buy bags for their trash they otherwise would have gotten for free.

      I guess this is another brilliant liberal policy.

      • RB says:

        Sherman, I’m sure you’ll survive and the fact that you’re calling it a liberal policy shows that you’re looking to find a way to attack it without any real logic. It’s happening in other cites…time to get on board in NYC, boomer.

        • Deborah says:

          First, how do you know that Sherman is a baby boomer? Second, why would you use what has become a derogatory term (boomer) when many of the rights that you and others take for granted were won by many of us baby boomers through hard work, protest, and legal action? Why be divisive?

          • JM says:

            To be fair, the Boomer generation has saddled later generations with some incredible obstacles. A good read is Brice Ginbey’s “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America.” If you want a better understanding of generational animosity, it might be worth your time.

        • michael says:

          I’m not so keen on WSR approving these comments. Name-calling such as this is divisive and unnecessary. It speaks volumes about the anger underlying the writer that may or may not truly relate to the story or an entire generation – regardless, it is aggressive and ridiculous. I would hope that WSR moderators could be a little more active in facilitating an environment for honest and constructive conversation.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        How myopic of you. You don’t think a reduction (initially) of plastic is a good thing, Mr. Right-Winger? You give the right a bad name.

      • John says:

        We can just as easily put our trash in paper bags and not plastic. Something has to be done to halt the proliferation of plastic bags, which have clogged our oceans, etc.

        • Kenneth says:

          Check in with your super or resident manager about what happens when a paper-bag full of household garbage drops a few stories down the trash chute and hits the bottom.

          • Ish Kabibble says:

            Uhm, we can send a man to the moon… I think we’ll figure that tricky problem out. I say, give the policy a day or two more before judging. Yes, that was sarcasm.

      • Sharon says:

        People in Europe and other countries have lived without plastic bags for years and have coped quite well. Single use plastic bags like those used for groceries are horrible for the environment and all wildlife. Get over it. Compost food scraps, reduce what you buy and use those paper bags for your trash.

        • John says:

          Sharon Composting in NYC is asking for a roach infestation and rats too

          • Sharon says:

            I don’t have rats or roaches. I take my food scraps and other compostable items to my local Green Market twice a week. Given the volume they collect there are a lot of us who would like to keep as much as possible out of our landfills. Makes some darn good natural soil enhancer too.

          • RF says:

            This is quite easy to do without attracting vermin in your home. Keep wet food scraps in a sealed container in your freezer, then take them to any of the NYC greenmarkets for drop-off:

      • Mel Stone says:

        Sherman, at the very least read the Times science section to get an idea of the impact plastic bags have on our environment.

      • Chris says:

        Yes I purchased large plastic bags to take out daily garbage so I am put 4 times the amount of plastic in the dump daily instead of reusing the small bags

      • Jo says:

        Sherman, the fallacy in your argument is that people’s groceries may come in 15/20 bags over the course of a week but unless they are throwing away everything they eat, the number of trash bags they need in a week will be only 2 or 3.

      • Upperwestsidewally says:

        Sherman – go take a look in many European cities where plastic bags are banned, or for sale @ €0.10 – €1.00. “Brilliant liberal policies” work, obviously.
        BT: Trash bags are a different subject alltogether.

    2. lynn says:

      I would much prefer it if LInda Rosenthal would spend Sunday addressing the homeless situation which is clearly evident on the very block where her office is located.

      • NYFSS says:

        Yes, yes, and amen!!! The blind eye being turned to this issue – which likely stems from the fact that our politicians have *no idea* how to solve the issue – is really astounding, especially as Broadway between 70-74 is quickly growing its unsheltered homeless population.

      • Miguel Ferres says:

        I agree with you 100% But Good luck with that! Our local politicians walk by endless number of vacant commercial spaces and almost step over the homeless encampments without doing anything about it. Intentionally oblivious.
        That’s why I, and many I know, aren’t voting in local elections anymore. They’re useless as our politicians are totally disengaged with area residents. Instead, they’re worried about cat declawing and nail salon workers (who don’t vote here) It would be laughable if it wasn’t true.
        It’s called Progressive politics

    3. Anna Anna Kopel says:

      This is nothing new in many states and countries!

    4. Brenda Classen says:

      I agree with this new ban n I also disagree because I use the plastic bag for trash and now I have to buy bags for trash but hopefully this ban will help the environment. Thank you

    5. Sheila Wolk says:

      I went to Gristedes super market yesterday and they said they were selling reusable bags for a dollar each for people to carry out their merchandise…or put groceries in for delivery..I asked to see one ( since I bought dozens of reusable long wear nylon type bags in eBay and intend on bringing those if for my deliveries of items)…WELL!!!! the bag Gristedes showed me was a bit heavier plastic bag with handles!! why ban plastic and allow stores to use plastic in it’s place ??????????

      • Chris says:

        If the store does not have a paper bag for 5 cents I will leave items at registrar and shop somewhere else.

      • az says:

        Because the plastics lobby (i.e., oil producers) managed to get a loophole placed into the law so that slightly heavier plastic bags are allowable.

      • Cato says:

        “why ban plastic and allow stores to use plastic in it’s place ?????????”

        I’d offer an answer (though I assume your question is rhetorical, since the answer is obvious), but then one of the Sandernistas saving the world would only dismiss the answer by calling me “boomer” (see # 1, above).

        Respond to an argument by labeling your opponent? Where have we seen that before? “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

    6. Weird That Way says:

      It is possible that stores have thousands of plastic bags in their inventory now. What happens to them? Are they supposed to throw the bags out so they go to the landfills?

    7. W. Aste Knott says:

      Both UWS Trader Joe’s sell inexpensive but sturdy re-useable bags, and then there’s Fresh Direct, which, having abandoned annoying paper cartons, delivers in RE-USEABLE bags, great for:

      a) schlepping stuff to the laundry-room;
      b) schlepping stuff to the garbage-room;
      c) AND schlepping stuff back home from TJ’s, Fairway, Pioneer, etc.

    8. RR says:

      If people would learn to separate/sort wet, non-organic garbage (and dispose of it using coated beverage containers or something similar) from compostable waste and recyclables (including e-waste and clothing) the amount of actual garbage can be significantly reduced. Paper grocery bags can be adequate for “wet garbage containers” added to “dry garbage”. A source of plastic bags from items like bread can be utilized to dispose of “wet garbage”.
      Time to get creative!! I haven’t bought plastic bags of any kind for years. They just come to me – like from Rx meds through the mail.

    9. Uwsmom says:

      It should be mandated that the paper bags have handles. Then they can be reused multiple times. Amazon prime delivery shows up with so many stickers all over them that a challenge to easily recycle.
      Trader Joe’s bags are great because they can be reused again and again.

    10. Big Earl says:

      Amazon sells 350 plastic shopping bags for $13-14. Problem solved. Don’t have to change if one doesn’t feel like it. Now what to do with the billions of single use plastic water bottles people discard everyday.

      • Ed says:

        While I’m personally in favor of the ban and have plenty of backpacks to carry my stuff, Sam’s Club (NJ) sells 1000 of those banned NYC bags for $13.98. Now, how about those K-Cups and all the plastic containers berries, and all sorts of food are sold in? I’m just sayin’

    11. George says:

      Gristedes sent out kind of a gross and manipulative email about the plastic bag ban, basically suggesting that incremental progress is absurd. They even mention “we recycle all plastic bags,” which is obviously misleading because when plastic bags go out with consumers they are typically thrown in the trash.

      It put me over the edge of just not wanting to shop there anymore (the prices already turn me away most of the time). I already bring reuable bags with me when shopping. And when I forget, or when I go on an unexpected grocery trip, I’ve already found that the paper replacements are suitable (got one from Duane Reade last night).

    12. Janis says:

      I’m hoarding anything plastic.; bags, containers, maybe even cut the tops off of milk containers and use thos for garbage.

    13. nycityny says:

      I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles where the “plastic ban” was implemented years ago. They started charging $.10 per bag for paper ones in the stores at that time.

      Somehow in the past few years plastic bags have re-emerged as an option in grocery stores. Ralph’s, a large chain there, offers a heavy plastic bag or a paper bag at $.10 each. The “new” plastic bag is bigger and sturdier than the ones before the “ban.”

      We’ll find out tomorrow if that’s what’s happening here. Are they replacing one type of plastic for another and earning $.05 each to boot? Whatever they offer here I’ll just pay the $.05 since I’m not walking around the city carrying bags with me all the time. In LA I keep reusable bags in the car but here I don’t drive.

    14. AC says:

      Staff at Broadway Farm lied straight to my face and told me the ban started today, Feb 29 when I said no it started March 1. They refused to give me a plastic bag despite my objection (I wanted one more to reuse at home!- I always reuse!)

    15. Polly says:

      Try carrying a chico bag. Lightweight washable nylon with its own attached pouch, it compresses to about the size of a large lemon. Pack of four on Amazon for $23.96.

    16. RF says:

      I’m a longtime Upper West Sider currently living in London, where this is already common practice. Stores either charge a small fee for plastic bags, or do not offer them at all. And you know what? Everyone gets along just fine! I haven’t used a plastic bag in months. I simply carry a tote bag with me at all times, and everyone I know does the same. There are plenty of reusable bag options which are compact, lightweight, and tuck easily into a small handbag or pocket. Sometimes I even carry two or three if I’m planning a big shopping trip. Not only is it better for the environment, but a tote is a far easier way to transport groceries or other heavy purchases–mine have a flat bottom, so you can sit the bags down without stuff tumbling everywhere. They also have much stronger handles, and I can put the strap over my shoulder to keep my hands free to open doors, etc. I’ve been doing this is NYC for years, without any complaints. The outcry from New Yorkers over this policy is almost embarrassing.

      • Keith says:

        Bravo! How right you are. And the tote bags carry more stuff, too.

        When you look at the plastics blowing in the streets, stuck in the trees, being washed up on beaches, etc., this is a no-brainer.

        I have even learned to drink from a cup without a straw and it hasn’t changed my lifestyle! Not bad for an older boomer!

    17. RJ says:

      Dallas Texas enacted a similar law In 2014. In 7 months the law was rescinded. Seems like sales tax revenue dropped as the average shopping item count dropped – less items were purchased apparently. That could be due to the number of bags brought in or amount that could be put into a Standard 15L backpack. This was before Amazon Prime and instaCart so the results might be different now. A credit of .05/bag brought in might have been the best solution for them.

    18. chris says:

      Re Europe: People have the OPTION of buying a plastic bag (about 10 cents) so they don’t have to carry their paper bags home in the rain etc — it does cut down on use when people have to pay for it … they have to think about it first.

    19. Nina Duchaine says:

      Did any notice that Zabars is totally ripping people off? You can buy a paper bag (without handles), or their reusable bags in 2 sizes.
      They had to special order large paper bags without handles….I have never seen one in my lifetime. Another reason not to shop at Zabars.