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Food Bank of CNY Provides Reusable Bags in Response to NYS Plastic Bag Ban

John Smith
WAER-FM 88.3

Central New Yorkers are in the midst of a transition to reusable shopping bags after the state law that bans single-use plastic bags went into effect Sunday. The Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, has teamed up with Food Bank of Central New York to ensure reusable bags are accessible to everyone, regardless of income.

Food Bank’s interim Director Karen Belcher says providing reusable bags is important because it might worsen their already tight budget.  

"We're helping them to maybe divert some of those dollars that they might have to spend on a reusable bag to help pay for utilities, food, medical costs, [and] rent that they may be trying to make for the month. We know that they are making choices between these on a monthly, sometimes daily, basis."

She adds that many families previously took their food home in plastic bags or boxes. The DEC provided 500 reusable bags to Food Bank of CNY with more than 270,000 being sent to other low-income communities. DEC Regional Director Matt Marko says the state is trying to educate the public so New Yorkers understand why the plastic bag ban is so important. 

"We need to get more of these plastics out of our enviornment, out of the waste stream. If we stay on the trend that we are on right now, there will be more plastics in the ocean by 2050 than there are fish."

New Yorkers use an estimated $23 billion worth of plastic shopping bags annually for an average of 12 minutes. The State DEC says the ban will reduce staggering amounts of plastic bags found in our landfills, waterways, and streets.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.