Environment, Government

A State Environmental Group is Pushing For a Ban on Both Paper and Plastic Bags

Hanna Ring from Citizen’s Campaign in CNY says the extensive use of both paper and plastic bags is causing mass pollution. (c) 2018 Hailey René

Shoppers are faced with many decisions when going grocery shopping. Click play to hear about how plastic grocery bags might not be an option much longer in New York State.

Audio Transcript: Plastic Bag Legislation

By Hailey René, SYRACUSE, N.Y. ( NCC News) — Paper or plastic?  The option may not be available much longer if the legislature passes Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed plastic bag ban in New York state.

Eliminating just plastic bags isn’t going to fix the problem though, according to Hanna Ring from Citizen’s Campaign in Central New York.

“We use 14 million trees to produce paper bags, and the process of trucking them and putting them in landfills and breaking them down, it uses a lot more natural resources and energy and does cause more pollution in the end,” she said. “So the goal isn’t to ban all plastic bags and have everyone switch to paper. It’s to switch from disposable to reusable.”

Although many people think paper is more environmentally-friendly than plastic, Ring said the best alternative is reusable fabric bags. She said the best way to enact change is by contacting local government.

“We [Citizen’s Campaign] encourage everyone to reach out to their local legislators and call on them to enact strong legislation that tackles both plastic and paper bags,” she said. “Talking to our representatives is the way to encourage them to do this. Once they see that their residents are pushing for this, they’ll likely start pushing for it as well.”

Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment is an organization that works to advance environmental policies in New York State. Ring works for the Central New York office in Syracuse, and goes door-to-door to educate and engage the public in environmental policies in the community.

Some local businesses, however, are not on the same page as Citizen’s Campaign. In a recent press release, Wegmans opposed Governor Cuomo’s proposed plastic bag ban. Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans manager of sustainability, said he worries that a plastic bag ban will lead to more paper bag use, which is not better for the environment. Reusable bags require additional resources, and are not recyclable, according to Wadsworth.

Ring says fabric and reusable bags offered in malls and grocery stores are the most environmentally-friendly option. (c) 2018 Hailey René