I got the email this week: New York City just approved a 5-cent fee on plastic shopping bags!! (And paper ones.)
We did it!!! Well, yours truly didn’t do much of anything, except plan (twice) and miss (twice) wearing my garbage bag couture to demonstrations at City Hall to help support the ban, and fight the euphemistically named “American Progressive Bag Alliance” (the plastic bag coalition that wanted to keep making its 5.2 billion — yes, BILLION — bags a year for NYC). But I had to work both times. Sigh.
(Speaking of which, I also missed Earth Day — can you believe it??? I got a last-minute writing gig with a super-tight deadline that day, so my big Earth Day extravaganza was finally leaving the house 8pm to meet a friend for a vegan mint chocolate-chip ice cream cone. It was a small gesture, but at least it was somewhat apropos: the place gives its customers “tastes” with real — i.e., nondisposable — spoons.)
Anyhoo, Thursday was a VERY exciting day for a dork like me. I won’t go into a ton of details about it, since there are already some great articles on the topic. I particularly like the piece in New York Magazine — educational and laugh-out-loud entertaining.
But can I just tell you how much stress I expect to be relieved of when I go to CVS or Gourmet Garage, where I cringe every time I watch all the plastic bags being given out? I wonder if, when October rolls around, the girl at the pharmacy will recall our recent conversation:
Me: “Would you consider asking customers if they’d like a plastic bag, instead of automatically giving them one?”
Her: “I tried asking people if they want a plastic bag or not, but then they stop and think about it, and it slows everything down.” She followed it with, “Maybe you should talk to Corporate.”
Hmm…they stop and think about it? That’s horrible! Especially when one or two other customers have to wait an extra 3 seconds for their prescription…which is already in a little paper bag. (Those little Rx bags will not require the 5-cent fee. Nor will shoppers using food stamps be charged for bags.)
I hope this is not the solution. I saw these organic cotton totes featuring endangered species at the new Mrs. Green’s in my ‘hood. But check it out — they’re packaged inside plastic bags:
Hey, at least New York City didn’t try to preemptively ban the bag ban, like Arizona tried to do. As my friend at the U.N. texted me, “Glad NYC is a bit closer to being as progressive as Rwanda and Madagascar.” Sigh.
By the way, if you’re wondering what to do with your single-use plastic bags once they become too stigmatizing to carry around (besides creating some cool couture), here’s an incredible motorized chandelier I saw at the New York Hall of Science in Queens a while ago:
The upcycled bags fill with air and change colors, creating endless versions of awesomeness. Now THAT is cool.
Some people get excited about birthday cake, or a new car. I get excited about waste management. What can I say?
Before I end, here’s a gratuitous shot of my little nephew. Although now that I think about it, these little beings are the ones who will be most affected by our actions. He’s likely to be around in the year 2100, when things are going to be VERY different in a lot of ways. Here’s a (marginally related) piece I wrote about population growth, in case you want to totally geek out.
I might have a party to celebrate this sweet, sweet victory. Let me know if you want to come! Or whatever else you want to say in the comments. (And do give the Facebook page a “Like” to see more snackable content.)
UPDATE: The Bag Bill has been postponed. 😦 See my post here.