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NY Takes a Stand Against Plastic Bags

24 hours after Earth Day, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced a bill that would ban plastic bags at any point of sale throughout the state. If this bill passes, New York would join California and Hawaii in banning plastic bags. This move comes as an effort to cut down on plastic waste statewide, reduce pollution, and protect New York’s natural resources.

In a statement Cuomo says:

“The blight of plastic bags takes a devastating toll on our streets, our water and our natural resources, and we need to take action to protect our environment. As the old proverb goes: ‘We did not inherit the earth, we are merely borrowing it from our children,’ and with this action we are helping to leave a stronger, cleaner and greener New York for all.”

Cuomo’s words hold a great amount of truth to them. The image of a plastic bag blowing across the road is not an uncommon one and Cuomo’s bill is trying to cut down on this. In 2014 alone, American discarded about 33.6 million tons of plastic. Most of this waste went to landfills, where the plastic would sit for about 500 years before decomposing and releasing pollutants into the soil and water. Plastic is recyclable and can be used to create energy, but only 24.5% of plastic was used for this.

The plastic bag ban would exclude those used to package raw meat, fish, deli meats, or poultry, bags sold in bulk, those used in bulk packages of fruit and dried goods, newspaper bags, trash bags, garment bags, and takeout food bags. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation could also exempt certain kinds of bags.

This bill, whose ban would go into effect by next year, seems to have bipartisan support, although there are those who question whether or not Cuomo is actually serious about this bill or if this is just election year politics, as he has not been particularly invested in environmental concerns in the past. His current opponent for this year’s election, Cynthia Nixon, takes a much firmer stance on environmental issues and is very open on her desire to address them.

No matter what Cuomo’s reasons are for this sudden interest in the environment, should this ban pass, it would only benefit the environment overall. Protecting the environment is of utmost importance to the future of humanity and, provided the governor doesn’t allow anything that would only prove detrimental to the environment, this large scale attempt at reducing waste and pollution could spark others to follow suit.

Muhlenberg '19 Spanish Language and Literature major on the Pre-med track. Hobbies include listening to music, Netflix, and debunking scientific myths
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