Effective on March 1, 2020, New York City, NY, is banning the usage of plastic bags by any organization that pays New York State sales tax. This ban is passed in an effort to limit the amount of plastic waste in our environment. New York City isn’t the first city to enact this ban. Various cities in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and other states in the United States have taken the first step towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

On the surface, this seems like a great solution. Considering we use over 100 billion plastic bags every year, any attempt to limit these harmful substances from our environment should be encouraged and celebrated. When I think of all the times I’ve gone to the supermarket and have my groceries not only bagged up in plastic bags but double bagged. It adds up.

However, many people have argued that while the plastic bag ban may eliminate some of the plastic waste in our environment, the use of paper bags in its place means that more trees must be chopped down, utilizing water, fuel, and other toxic chemicals and other machinery that emit and increase greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the harm that paper bags introduce, the ban on smaller single-use plastic bags in grocery stores increases the purchase of various heavy-duty garbage bags. Think about it, if you’re not getting your garbage liner from the grocery store, you’re going to have to get it from somewhere.

All this being said, does this mean our efforts are in vain?

Not quite.

While it’s true that the ban on plastic bags may not be the solution to the ever-growing concern of plastic waste, one thing this law does prove is that awareness is rising and people realize we need to take action. There is a clear motivation to better our society and fix some of the harm that we’ve caused over the past 20 years.

I don’t know what the best solution is. I think we tend to forget that there are no perfect solutions to an issue that faces our society. Everything comes at a cost of some sort. We just have to determine what benefits outweigh the costs and do our part as individual members of society to go green in other ways to make up for those costs. At the end of the day, we’re all striving to become better versions of ourselves. Let’s add sustainability to the list of ways we can further improve as a generation.

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Sources:

NPR