Single-Use Plastic Bags: Forward, Not Backward


Brenna Oxley, Contributor

The plastic bag industry is trying to undo some recent legislation that banned single-use plastic bags. The Chicago Tribune reported that last week the “Plastics Industry Association sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requesting that the department publicly declare that banning single-use plastics during a pandemic is a health threat.”

In early March, New York banned most single-use plastic bags. Many are upset, while others are embracing it. This ban changes the lives of millions of New Yorkers. Isabella Caballero, a sophomore at Bob Jones, said, “I think it’s a good thing. While it’s going to be difficult for some people to adjust, it is what’s best for the environment in the long run.”

The state put the law into place after research revealed that people in New York use 23 billion plastic bags a year. In an effort to reduce that amount, they will start charging 5 cents for either a reusable bag or paper bag. The local Government will keep 2 cents, while the other 3 cents will go to New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. They are allowing certain types of bags to continue to be used. Plastic bags used for meat, prescriptions, and from restaurants will still be allowed; however, grocery bags aren’t. After April 1st, people will begin being charged a fine for carrying a single-use plastic bag. 

New York is not the first place to put a law into place limiting plastic bags and their use. California, Hawaii, and Oregon have banned plastic bags as a way to better their environment. Out of the 50 states, only four are involved in such bans. Should more states get involved? Senior Ashlee Sunderman thinks so saying, “It’s so important to limit single-use plastic, and this is one of the simplest ways to do it.”

There are many ways to help reduce the use of plastic such as using glass jars or natural materials. Recycling also plays a big role in bettering our environment. By reducing the amount of plastic bags used, we can make the world a cleaner place.

Though every precaution should be made to keep frontline grocery store clerks safe during the pandemic, the states that have already made progress on the plastic bag ban should not revert back to single-use plastic bags. Maybe it is time for everyone to ring up his or her own groceries in self-check lanes and bag the groceries themselves.