“I think it’s ridiculous,” letter-carrier Scott Kimmel, 56, told the New York Post while shopping at a Target in College Point, Queens. “I understand about ‘conserve, take care of the environment,’ but c’mon!”
New York officially prohibited stores from handing out most thin plastic bags starting Sunday.
A shopper carrying plastic bags in Manhattan on Sunday. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)
State environmental officials were encouraging New Yorkers to start using reusable bags often made out of canvas or polyester. They said the state has purchased over a quarter-million reusable bags to give out to food pantries and shelters.
“I was totally shocked,” Target shopper Richie Alvarez, 49, added of the change. “This is what our world is coming to. Yeah, they charged me extra for the bag. That’s why I only took one. It would normally be two or three bags.”
The law, which the state passed last April, barred many types of businesses from using the thin plastic bags that have been clogging up landfills, getting tangled in trees and accumulating in lakes and seas.
A cash register attendant looking at a sign reading “Plastic Bags Ban” in a grocery store in New York last Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
Single-use paper bags will still be allowed, but counties had the option of imposing a 5-cent fee.
The state has planned to enforce the ban by issuing a warning to stores that violate the law for the first time. Each store eventually could face a $250 fine for a subsequent violation, and a $500 fine for violations in the same calendar year.
New York’s ban exempted bags used for restaurant takeout food, plastic bags used to wrap meat and bags used for prepared food.
“Plastic bags are officially banned,” the city posted on Twitter. “Together, we can create a cleaner future for our city and planet.”
The change seemed to affect residents who are elderly or of lesser means.
“This is nonsense,” said Constance Tripoli, 53, in Brooklyn. “I ain’t got no SUV like the mayor to take my groceries home. I told them I needed bags, and they snuck me a few.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.