On March 26, 2014, the Human Impacts Institute crew attended a rally at City Hall, where Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin introduced a bill that is intended to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. The legislation would impose a10 cent fee for every plastic or paper bag distributed at retail and grocery stores in New York City.
Plastic bags are a huge problem in New York City. On average, New Yorkers use 5.2 billion plastic bags per year, which requires an annual $10 million in city funds to transport the bags to landfills. Since the bags are not biodegradable, they continue to accumulate in the landfills; leaving less and less space for the city’s other waste. If the bags do not go to the landfills, they clog storm drains, become entangled in our trees/plants, or float through our streets, like ghosts of pollution.
This form of legislation is not groundbreaking; cities like Los Angles, Seattle and Washington D.C. have already passes similar legislation. In addition, Rwanda, Kenya and Bangladesh have successfully implemented bans on plastic bags.
Although it is evident that plastic bags plague our beautiful city and are very costly in the long run, there are still organizations that oppose the efforts of this legislation. Representatives of the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) were present at the rally today to inform attendees of how this legislation would “incentivize shoppers to carry out less sustainable options”- the less sustainable option that they were referring to was the use of reusable bags. This legislation undoubtedly worries industries associated with petroleum by-products; however, it is necessary to ensure that we can preserve our environment for future generations.
The Human Impacts Institute is working closely with our Bag It NYC coalition partners to raise awareness of the pressing need to deter consumers from using plastic bags. This legislation benefits the environment and promotes conscious consumerism.
Show your support for Bag It NYC and reduce the number of plastic bags on New York City streets, trees, and waterways!
By Camila Montes de Oca, Environmental Services Intern, HII