NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Checking out at stores across New York could soon cost you more money.
The state’s ban on plastic bags goes into effect on Sunday, March 1.
There’s a single word the state will soon say to single use, carry out plastic bags: Goodbye.
Starting Sunday, they will be outlawed across New York.
The ban is aimed at reducing pollution, since experts say New York residents use 23 billion of them a year.
“It’s obvious that plastic bags, plastic in general, create a lot of problems for the environment,” one shopper said.
Shoppers will have to choose between bringing recyclable bags to stores or, depending on the region, pay five cents more for every paper bag they use.
“I have two here and more at home. I’m ready,” said Nancy, an Upper West Side resident.
“I think if they’re going to charge for bags, they should charge more because I don’t think five cents will deter it,” one shopper said.
While some say the charge isn’t enough, others are trying to wrap their minds around how they will afford the extra charge.
“Really, no one is prepared,” said Tyishe Balance, a Soundview resident. “Nobody wants to pay extra money for bags. Nobody got extra money. What if you need that last five cents and you don’t have it because you paid for that bag?”
Local leaders say the ban could divide the state. Whereas more upscale neighborhoods are prepared, less affluent and minority communities are not, even though those on government assistance will get paper bags for free.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez think the city can help poor people transition to cloth or vinyl bags.
“Each council member should continue dedicating a percentage of the discretionary funding to provide free recycle bags,” he said.
While most stores will probably have alternative options to plastic bags available, keep in mind they’re not required to supply bags at all.
The president of Food Universe Marketplace in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx just stocked up on reusable bags. He plans to sell four of them for three dollars, not sure though if customers are prepared for the extra cost.
“It’s going to be a little hard in the beginning. It’s going to be harder for us in the beginning,” Rafael Amarante said.
Officials with the Department of Environment Conservation say ideally a bag should be washable and designed for multiple uses.
Some bags will be exempt from the ban including ones restaurants use to deliver food, bags used for uncooked meat or poultry, bulk items such as fruits and vegetables and dry clean or laundry service bags.
The ban will not be enforced aggressively right away, Dias reported. But eventually, businesses could face a find of up to $250 for a first violation and up to $500 for a repeat violation.
Lawmakers say the new regulations are meant to get people to switch to reusable bags.