NYC to Bill de Blasio: Pass. This. Bill.
by Shana DeClercq
Made from fossil fuels. Shipped around the world in carbon-emitting boats, trains, and trucks. Used once, sometimes for as few as five minutes. It then often becomes litter – trapped in trees, poisoning wildlife, polluting waterways. It’s the single use plastic bag. And New Yorkers are so OVER it.
On March 3, 2015, New Yorkers and over 70 organizations presented an open letter to Bill de Blasio. It had one simple and clear message: We need a fee on single-use plastic bags, and we need it now. The bill they support is simple: stores would charge $.10 for all carryout bags (paper or plastic). That’s it.
So simple, so small, and yet so huge. Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia weighed in with some sobering facts:
“New Yorkers use and discard a staggering 10 billion single-use carryout bags annually. …There is a very limited market for plastic bag recycling in the United States. On average, (New York City) collects more than 1,700 tons of single-use carry-out bags per week – which equates to 91,000 tons of plastic and paper carry-out bags each year, and presently costs the City $12.5 million annually to dispose of this material outside the City.”
Those are some big numbers.
Some people ask: why don’t we just recycle plastic bags? Well, according to the Environmental Protection Agency plastic bag recycling is going down, not up. The national rate for recycling high density polyethylene (what single-use plastic bags are made of) is only 4.3%. That means that probably less than 1% of plastic bags get recycled. Sadly, plastic bag recycling today is more of a myth than reality.
The open letter made one additional and really important point: if New York is ever going to meet its goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it’s going to have cut out totally unnecessary fossil-fuel-based products, like the single-use plastic bag.
So, if Mayor Bill de Blasio leads the charge to pass a $.10 fee on single-use plastic bags, New York City could save $12.5 million a year, reduce litter, improve parks, protect beaches and rivers, save birds and make real progress toward reducing greenhouse gas-emissions . That’s a win-win-win!
Join us, legions of New Yorkers, and dozens of environmental organizations in urging Bill de Blasio and the NYC City Council to pass this legislation by Earth Day, April 22, 2015.
- Snap It: Bags in trees are the worst! Snap a pic of littered bags in NYC and share on Instagram with hashtag #BagItNYC. Or email us with your photo. (We need hundreds of these photos for a visual petition we’ll deliver to lawmakers at City Hall at the rally, March 23, 2015.)
- See It: This map of NYC is tagged with photos of littered bags. Click on a pin to see the City Council member responsible for that district!
- Get Inspired: Watch The Story of Solutions
See the bags live in this Facebook video: