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NYC's plastic bag ban starts today

That's right—it's officially happening

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

With so much happening this year, it's easy to forget about New York City's plastic bag ban.

The measure, which was approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2019, had originally been set to take effect on March 1, but because of the shutdown, it was postponed until October 19, 2020 — today.

So when you go out for groceries or to pick up replenishment for your at-home bar cart, you should notice a lack of plastic bags. If you forget to bring your reusable bag, you'll have to pay 5 cents for a paper bag.

RECOMMENDED: Everything you need to know about New York's new plastic bag ban

The new law forbids all stores from giving out single-use plastic bags because they are not biodegradable and have been found to be the cause of wildlife deaths and major pollution around the world, including all those sad New York City trees that have become plastic bag traps.

The ban does have some exemptions—plastic bags used to contain meat or other unwrapped food like deli goods, bulk items, newspapers, trash and garment bags and prescription medicine bags among others are still allowed. Additionally, customers paying with SNAP or WIC aren’t required to pay the fee.

If you're not sure the bag you have is reusable, the State DEC defines a reusable bag as hand or machine washable, able to hold 22 pounds for the duration of its lifespan, has at least one strap and has 125 uses.

Still have specific questions about what's allowed? The DEC's website outlines it all.

Just don't leave home without a bag—remember: "phone, keys, wallet, mask, bag." 

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