What New Yorkers are saying about The Bag Bill
From 3rd graders to world-renowned celebrities, and from advocates for environmental justice to small business owners – New Yorkers from all walks of life are speaking out to support The Bag Bill. Here’s what a few have to say:
Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the New York City Council:
"For too long, plastic bags have clogged our storm drains, littered our green spaces and tangled in our trees.With this legislation, we can take a step toward a cleaner and sustainable city.New York must join efforts with cities across the country and around the world to tackle this issue head-on.The legislation before the council does just that, by incentivizing New Yorkers to bring our own bags, with common-sense exemptions for economic and logistical realities faced by consumers and retailers."
Bette Midler, award-winning actress, singer, and founder of the New York Restoration Project:
“Plastic bags are a scourge; billions of them are used in New York every year, and thousands of them wind up in our trees, rivers, lakes, beaches and oceans. I have seen hundreds of pictures of wild animals and fish that ingested them and died, full of plastic refuse. New York has always led the nation and the world and now it's time to take a stand against one of the most polluting inventions ever. Let's get this bill passed!”
Crain’s New York Business Editorial Board:
“Some sights in New York City are so commonplace that we take them for granted. Pigeons on sidewalks. Garbage on the curb. Plastic bags everywhere. It doesn’t have to be this way—at least as far as plastic bags are concerned.Bags get stuck in storm drains, sewage plants and recycling equipment, too. They blow into gutters and gardens. The Department of Sanitation spends a good amount of time removing them from trees, as do a few civic-minded New Yorkers who set out with long poles. There’s a better way: Charge shoppers when they get disposable bags at checkout. It wouldn’t take much. A nickel per bag would go a long way toward eliminating this hideous feature of our urban landscape.” Full endorsement of bill here.
New York Daily News Editorial Board:
"New York shoppers use an estimated nine billion bags a year of the plastic variety, many of which become unsightly, throwaway scraps after having been made wastefully from petroleum. The logic goes that if you have to pay a nickel for a bag — of any kind — you’ll choose to use substantially fewer, leading to less clogging of storm drains and recycling machinery, less trash in landfills, and fewer blighted trees. Said with skepticism in a city hassled by waste management: The Council should join Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and vote this week to see how New Yorkers take to the nickel nuisance." Full endorsement of bill here.
The New York Times Editorial Board:
“There’s something ridiculous about the life of a two-handled plastic shopping bag. The 20 minutes it spends cradling your groceries home is bracketed by two vast gulfs of time. First, thousands of years beneath the earth, in a natural-gas deposit, and then, after its conversion to a disposable polyethylene product, a second eternity as all-but-indestructible trash...The New York City Council has a bill to limit the use of plastic bags...The bags are no good. Their use should be curtailed. The bill should pass.”Full endorsement of bill here.
Michelle Aklufi, Ms. Wilen’s 3rd grade class, NEST+m:
“I don’t want to live in a sea of plastic when I grow up. There should be a charge so more people will use reusable bags so the environment will be more clean.”
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance:
"The NYC Environmental Justice Alliance remains proud to support the City Council's Plastic Bag Reduction bill. We hope to see this bill passed – and passed by Earth Day, because it supports both our long-term goal to both reduce waste as well as reduce impacts on the low-income communities of color that handle the vast majority of NYC's waste. Roughly 100,000 tons of plastic bags are handled by NYC's waste system every year -- this represents a tremendous burden on both the environment and on the environmental justice communities where waste transfer stations are disproportionately located. We are pleased to note that Council Member Lander has addressed potential impacts on low-income New Yorkers by exempting SNAP/WIC transactions from the fee and committing to distribution of free, reusable bags in low-income neighborhoods."
Chrstine Sahadi Whelan, one of the proprietors of Sahadi's, a Brooklyn retailer:
"After careful consideration, we realized that supporting this bill is the right thing to do for our children, grandchildren and all future generations...As much as our business is about providing good food, it’s also about family and looking out for one another. The decisions we make today about the environment are the ones that future generations will have to live with. When we think about the planet and the city we want to leave for them, supporting the bill to reduce the number of plastic and paper bags that are wasted is an easy decision." Full endorsement of the bill here.
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE:
“UPROSE is proud to support this long overdue legislation. We know plastic bags pollute our oceans, end up in the food consumed by frontline communities in the global south, and create needless truck traffic in NYC's low-income communities of color. Reducing waste is a climate justice priority. ”
Marcia Bystryn, President of New York League of Conservation Voters:
"Carryout bags are not free. Every New Yorker pays when we see our trees, streets and playgrounds littered with plastic bags. The disposable bags bill asks New Yorkers to pause for a second. When asked if you need a carryout bag, the choice will be yours. That pause can make a world of a difference for cleaner streets, a greener city and a healthier environment."
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James:
“We have a moral obligation to do all we can to protect the environment for our future generations. A modest fee for plastic bags will go a long way in reducing our dependency on plastics bags, alleviating millions of dollars in city spending to dispose of these bags and in supporting our small businesses who will not have to spend as much to purchase these bags. I applaud Council Member Lander for his leadership on this issue and urge all New Yorkers to continue our efforts to reduce our detrimental impacts on the environment."
Jennie Romer, Attorney and Founder of plasticbaglaws.org:
"NYC's bag bill builds upon the lessons learned in all the cities that came before it. I've been involved with drafting bag bills all over the U.S. for almost ten years. We've seen that bag fees are most effective in changing consumer behavior to drastically reduce bag use. With a bag fee customers are presented with a choice of whether they want to buy a carryout bag for their purchases, and they become much more likely to bring their own bag or not get a bag for small purchases."
Mark Winston Griffith of the Brooklyn Movement Center:
"When it comes to making our communities more environmentally secure, the status quo is no longer an option. With this bill, I’m confident Central Brooklynites will quickly make the transition from local plastic bags users to role models on a more sustainable planet."
Emily Nobel Maxwell, Director of The Nature Conservancy's New York City program:
"Supporting this bill is supporting cleaner communities and a greener future for New York City -- from our streets to our waterways. At the Conservancy, we work to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. This proposal would dramatically reduce solid waste from single-use bags while also saving taxpayer dollars -- a win for all New Yorkers, and for nature. Mayor de Blasio has an incredible opportunity to take a huge leap forward in the name of conservation this Earth Day. We encourage him to take it.”
Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“From Washington D.C. to San Francisco, cities around the nation have taken progressive steps to curb plastic bag litter. This legislation, if passed, will result in cleaner streets, parks, beaches and waterways in neighborhoods throughout New York City. We applaud Councilmembers Brad Lander and Margaret Chin for their leadership in advancing this forward-looking legislation.”
Peter H. Kostmayer, CEO of Citizens Committee of New York City:
“In 2008, the African country of Rwanda eliminated plastic bags in order to help promote eco-tourism and a cleaner greener environment than its neighbors. That practical law helped the country save funds that would have been needed to pay government employees to clean up carryout bag waste. So, in order to get New Yorkers to break their disposable bag habit, Citizens Committee coordinated 26 reusable bag giveaways. To date, nearly 6,000 large reusable grocery tote bags have been distributed to working class New Yorkers who’ve promised to shop without taking one plastic or paper bag… forever! Intro 209 is the type of progressive and common sense legislation New Yorkers will always be proud about. And we are finally catching up with Rwanda.”
Rolando Guzman, Deputy Director for Community Preservation at St Nicks Alliance:
“The plastic bag bill is a fundamental step in the right direction for a more sustainable waste reduction in New York City. Our neighborhoods in North Brooklyn are overburdened by all the waste transfer stations that process almost 40% of New York City waste. OUTRAGE calls for fair distribution of waste transfer stations throughout the City, and we call on the New York City Council to sign into law this legislation.”
Erin Leigh George, Community Organizer, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest:
“Carryout bags in New York City do not come without a cost. The vast majority of plastic bags are not recycled. They end up being trucked to waste transfer stations and then to landfills, or littering our streets, green-spaces and sewers. Low-income communities and communities of color are unfairly burdened with handling the vast majority of trash generated by all New Yorkers. The resulting abundance of diesel emissions, dangerous hauling vehicles and waste in their communities are seriously detrimental to health and wellbeing. Passage of the carryout bag bill would reduce plastic bag waste and have a meaningful impact on NYC’s overall waste stream, resulting in tangible benefits for all New Yorkers--and in particular for environmental justice communities.”
New York State Senator Liz Krueger:
“There’s no hiding the fact that we’ve got a plastic bag problem; we see it everyday in our trees, our streets, and our rivers. Plastic pollution costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year, not to mention causes significant environmental damage. Bag fees have a proven track record of significantly reducing plastic bag use in cities and countries around the world. I urge my elected colleagues in New York City to pass Intro 209 by Earth Day, and keep our city moving on the path to zero waste.”
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, Ranking Member of Environment Conservation Committee:
“Each year Americans throw away more than 100 billion plastic bags, with New York City alone accounting for 5.2 billion. The result is an unprecedented ecological disaster that is threatening the future of our environment. I want to thank Council Members Margaret Chin and Brad Lander for advancing this legislation, which will help to create a more sustainable future and serve as a model for lawmakers in Albany.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer:
“Reducing the use of plastic bags takes us that much further toward our goal of a sustainable world. We should follow the path that other local governments around the country have blazed for us, and act now to reduce the use of plastic bags. I support Int. 209 and join those calling for its passage."
Council Member Rafael Espinal:
“When the plastic bag bill was originally introduced, I publicly opposed it because I believed a fee would disproportionately affect working class and low-income New Yorkers and would have a negative impact on the jobs the industry creates. But over the year, I’ve visited developing countries and saw the devastating effect plastic bags and non-degradable products have on their environment. In that time I have also listened to countless stories from advocates about how plastic bags are not disposed of properly. And they are right, I do see plastic bags hanging in trees, littering sidewalks, and we have all seen plastic bags make their way into the East River...My conscience does not allow me to vote down a bill that takes a step towards addressing the larger issue, which is global climate change."
Jeanne Dupont, Executive Director of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance.
“Everyday in the Rockaways we see the impacts of a disposable city on our shorelines. We urge the Mayor and City Council to take action on disposable bags by this Earth Day.”
Debby Lee Cohen, Executive Director and Founder of Cafeteria Culture:
“NYC plastic bag litter is an environmental and health problem run amok, contributing to the 165 million plastic fragments flowing from our local waterways into the ocean daily. Now is time to pass the bag bill, protecting our waterways, our seafood chain, and the health of our communities for generations to come. With summer approaching, the urgency of this issue has moved up a notch. Warmer climates have long witnessed plastic bag litter as breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes. What are we waiting for?”
Roland Lewis, President and CEO of Waterfront Alliance:
“Passing the Bag Bill is one more important step toward getting dangerous and polluting plastics away from fish and people that that enjoy our harbor and waterways.”
John Coghlan, Rise Above Plastics Representative for Surfrider Foundation, NYC Chapter:
"Surfrider Foundation and its thousands of members across the country proudly support Introduction 209 in New York City. We urge our City Council and Mayor de Blasio to join us in supporting Intro 209, a critical step toward protecting oceans, waves, and beaches in New York City and around the world.”
Cindy Wheeler, Beacon's Closet:
“BYOBag policy at Beacon's Closet is about positive reinforcement. Our customer base is concerned about the environment as our business model is essentially recycling clothes. There is an active moment where something might click with a customer, when they are participating in our program by paying that extra few cents, and they just might remember to bring their own bag the next time.”
Cortney Worrall, Northeast Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association:
“Plastic bags are too frequent visitors in our neighborhoods and at our great national parks like Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City. We need to be free of plastic bag waste not just for the health of wildlife but also for our ability to experience New York City’s great natural places. Reducing plastic bag waste in New York City is common sense.”
Jacquelyn Ottman, Founder, WeHateToWaste.com:
“Passing this bag bill would not only affect the shopping behavior of millions of New Yorkers, but would send a really important message to every other large city in the world considering such a move.”
The American Littoral Society:
“Plastic bags do not belong in our oceans or on our beaches! The American Littoral Society urges the Council to pass the bag bill by Earth Day.”
Mary Ann Sullivan, Environmental Action Director for the League of Women Voters:
"The League of Women Voters of the City of New York urges the Mayor and the City Council to celebrate Earth Day by passing Int 209. Other cities have learned that paying for takeout bags dramatically cuts down on single use plastic and paper bags, the amount of garbage discarded and collected, and encourages the use of reusable bags. Our city will benefit enormously when people remember to carry reusable bags instead of using disposable bags. There will be less trash going into landfills and we will save millions of tax dollars. There will be less plastic bags polluting our streets, our sewers and our waterways, less bags dangling from tree limbs. Passing this bill will say to future generations that we cared about disposing less and leaving them a cleaner environment. Please pass Int 209 by Earth Day.”