New Yorkers prepare to adjust to statewide plastic bag ban coming in March

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New Yorkers are just days away from the statewide ban on single use plastic bags.

The ban officially goes into effect on March 1, and shoppers will have to use canvas or paper bags instead.

But are New Yorkers prepared?

For some, the ban on plastic bags can't come soon enough.

Many people say they stopped using them years ago. But there are others who say being forced to buy canvas bags, or having to pay for paper bags at the grocery store, is an expense they can't afford.

Dennis Clary, of Yonkers, knows the ban on plastic bags is about to become a reality and he's not happy about it.

"It’s very, very inconvenient, second of all, it wasn't thought out properly," Clary says.

New York is the latest state, joining California and Oregon, to institute the ban on single-use plastic bags. It forbids businesses from providing the single-use bags that many shoppers rely on.

The ban aims to reduce the billions of discarded bags that turn up in landfills, oceans and rivers.

It’s a concept that Nancy Pigott, of Yonkers, has been supporting for years, by using her own recyclable bags at the grocery store.

"It is safer for the environment, the less plastic. I mean, you could see it. You see it in all those islands and everything where it’s all being dumped into the ocean. It’s a sad thing," Pigott says.

"When you see where plastic is, it’s covering the oceans around the world, you see them all over the place. I think it’s a good thing," says Richard Williams, of Greenburgh.

At the Stew Leonard's supermarket in Yonkers, there's still a mix of paper, plastic, and canvas for customers. But the store is also seeing a jump in the number of people buying reusable bags at 99 cents each.

The store is also selling pre-packaged plastic bags.

"At this point in time, the world is changing, so we have to change with it. It’s an important thing to do for the environment and here at Stew Leonard's we are committed to that," says Stew Leonard's vice president Christian Cruz.

Many retailers say they are taking steps to ease the transition. For example, the Stew Leonard’s will hand out free reusable canvas to their customers for a limited time.

The ban on all plastic bags is this Sunday. However, the state Department of Environmental Conservation says fines will start April 1.

Statement for attribution to NYS DEC

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is pleased that a temporary restraining order was not issued in this case so New York’s ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect as planned on March 1. We have consistently said since the beginning of our outreach campaign that we will focus on education rather than enforcement and today does not change that.

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