The New York City Council recently passed a resolution that imposes five-cent plastic bag fees as a means of protecting the environment. It’s an ordinance that’s already been enacted in other cities around the country including San Francisco and Denver. While there are those decrying this as another nanny state move to impose yet another tax, it is indeed clear that these ubiquitous shopping bags are more nuisance than necessity. They jam storm drains and recycling systems, wind up in trees, endanger wildlife and sit around in landfills for decades. And though people may gripe about this being a mandated way of changing consumer habits by forcing them to remember to bring reusable bags or being penalized at the register, it’s an adjustment that bodes well for the long run, not unlike banning smoking on planes or in restaurants. The Emerald Isle is one place where this proposal was enacted and yielded great results. According to Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency, Ronan Mulhall of the Waste Policy division confirmed that plastic bag litter dropped by 93 percent and plastic bag use decreased by approximately 90 percent in the year following the plastic bag levy.
East Hampton and neighboring towns adopted a ban on single-use plastic bags this past fall. It wouldn’t surprise me if this winds up being yet another trend that makes its way to Nassau. And people who already practice bringing their own reusable bags to places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods can attest, it’s a great habit to get into.