NYC is officially changing its name to New York #CrushPlastic. Well, sort of.

The New York City Council just passed a controversial bill that will impose a five-cent fee on plastic and paper grocery bags. (The real question is, why should environmental destruction be controversial?! But that’s beside the point.) The bill, which will go into effect in fall of 2017, was voted in 28-20.

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So how will this five cent tax convince people that plastic’s just got to go? According to Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), who co-sponsored the bill, “It works by irritating us into changing our behavior and remembering to bring reusable bags.”

NYC means business. If a store does not follow the fee law, they can expect a $250 penalty for the first violation and $500 for each subsequent violation. And while the fee law does not apply to purchases involving food stamps, food pantries, prescription bags, or restaurant take-out bags, it’s still a laudable step in the right direction. (Next up, all out plastic bag ban, we hope!)

While charging a nickle for a plastic bag may seem like a small fee, the payoff is substantial. After all, grocery bags are killing thousands of marine animals every year through their contribution to plastic waste. Did you know that according to the Earth Institute, over 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year? That’s about 2 million bags used per minute around the world. Let that sink in.

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And those bags certainly don’t disappear into thin air. Instead, they end up in our oceans, putting approximately 700 marine species in danger of extinction due to the threat from entanglement, pollution, and ingestion. And plastic bags are just one of many forms of plastic trash that ends up in the oceans – in fact, an appalling 8.8 million tons of this material make their way from land to the oceans every single year.

The devastation of entire marine ecosystems is a high price to pay for conveniences. It’s time to act now. It’s as easy as throwing a reusable tote in your bag before heading out the door!

What Else Can You Do?

While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.

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“Plastic is ubiquitous in modern society and seemingly unavoidable. But is it worth risking the lives of marine species, the health of the oceans and our own future in the name of convenience? By taking steps to minimize everyday plastics in our lives, we can crush plastic at the source and give marine life a fighting chance,” says Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet.

If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans.

As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

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Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons