Plastic Bags Will Soon Cost 5 Cents in NYC and I Couldn’t Be Happier

While you all were drinking margaritas, celebrating Cinco De Mayo, I sipped a local draft beer and celebrated one of my New York dreams coming true!

May 5th, 2016, the New York City council passed a bill to crack down on plastic and paper bags. Starting in April 2017, for every bag you take in New York City, you will be charged a 5 cent fee.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for passing this bill, NYC!

The San Francisco native in me starting doing an interpretive dance expressing JOY the minute I heard this news. I’ve been waiting years for this! My hometown banned plastic bags almost a decade ago, in 2007. My home state of California saw what a good idea this was, and followed suit in 2014, and became the first state in America to ban plastic bags in 2014.

I am often asked if I ever think about moving back to California. This bag ban has everything to do with my reply:
“Yes. Every time a bodega tries to double bag my singular Snickers bar purchase, I become incredibly homesick.”
“Yes. When I’m looked at like a crazy bag lady for saying ‘I have my own bag’.”
“YES. The next time a store employee treats me like a fucking shoplifter because I don’t want a sea turtle-killer plastic bag, I’m throwing all my stuff in RE-USABLE bags and moving back!”

Colorful Plastic Bags And Trash Caught In A Fence
Bye, bye, bags!

Now if New York continues down this glorious path of plastic bag annihilation, I’ll have no reason to ever leave. Ya know, besides winter. And sunsets over the Pacific being far superior to sunsets over New Jersey.

Why am I so passionate about this?

  1. Because people love to joke about how the Hudson River is a toxic horror and not do anything about it.
  2. Because small individual changes made by 9 million people actually do make a difference.
  3. Because our environment needs help even more than the MTA needs a complete overhaul.
  4. Because a world where I don’t have to suppress a feminist AND environmental tirade every time store clerks try to triple bag a box of tampons will be such a happier one.
  5. Because this is an easy change to make. Really, it is!

I dreamt of that world. Now it’ll be a reality in 11 short months!

It won’t be easy. It’s human nature to fear change. Surely thousands of New Yorkers chime in their two cents to bitch about this 5 cents.

“Another unnecessary surcharge in a city that’s already too expensive to live in!”
“Way to make it so our streets will be covered in DOG SHIT.”
This fee is regressive, and burns the communities it’s trying to help.

I will argue this fee is amazing until I’m as blue in the face as a kid who puts a plastic bag over their head and almost suffocates. YES. I WENT THERE.

This fee is great because it can change the New York City culture. Sure, some Wall Street bros will refuse to carry anything with in the realm of a “murse” EVER. They’ll pay the 5 cents. Whatever. The NYC I imagine coming to fruition because of this bill? One where everyone brings re-usable bags everywhere. You throw one in your purse, you tuck one in your pocket, that’s just how it will be in 2017. What I see in San Francisco every time I go back to visit my parents is, well, hella rad. You’re looked at like a weirdo if you don’t bring your own re-usable bag. People on line at a store look at you with pity, “You didn’t bring your own bag? Sucks to be you,” regardless of socio-economic status.

You bet your ass I’ll be looking with disdain at everyone who pays for a bag come April 2017. Until then, we have plenty of time to adjust and buy super cute, fold-up-into-nothing bags before then! Because shopping! Shopping is a New York institution! But maybe, just maybe, the day will come when this won’t be a chic look on 5th Avenue.

Can you imagine an NYC where this shopping bag status symbol doesn’t say Rich! Sophisticated! Chic! Trendy! but instead Idiot! Showoff! Gaudy! Paying 5 cents for a bag you’ll THROW AWAY? Moronic! 

Re-usable bags: A new fashion frontier.

Look! You can make your bag an accessory! A re-usable bag that doubles as a corsage, or a Carrie Bradshaw-esque brooch! Voila: a whole new NYC fashion outlet to be explored with re-usable bags.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” I can’t wait to see what people re-usable bag innovations this creative AF town produces.


Wallet in one pocket, re-usable bag in the other! These might even be masculine and portable enough for the anti-murse/hate-carrying-anything bros! (Doubtful, but I can dream of the day.)


Who knows, I could be completely wrong about the men of New York. Maybe they’ll embrace the re-usable bag trend like they embrace single malt scotch. Especially when there are options like this already available on Amazon!


The spring 2017 must-have bag for every mansplainer in New York!

I’m picking on men because I foresee them as the most resistant to carrying re-usable bags. I get it, it’s more of an adjustment. It’s a lot easier for women to throw an adorable strawberry-shaped bag in the purse we are already accustomed to carrying. So maybe we should start incentives now. Start a movement, “I ♥ men who ♥ re-usable bags.” Hmm….might need tweeking before I get it printed up on totes…

Now that I’ve talked more about plastic bags than I ever thought I could: what are your thoughts on this? Does change scare you? Do you already try to use re-usable bags but often forget? Will 5 cents be exactly the incentive you need to remember? Have you visited California and already experienced this? What’s your favorite re-usable bag? Have you never had to buy a re-usable bag because companies so often give them away as swag? Would love to hear anything you have to say!

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

5 thoughts on “Plastic Bags Will Soon Cost 5 Cents in NYC and I Couldn’t Be Happier

  1. I’m so excited this is going into action.
    I love my IKEA bag, it’s great for hauling big loads of everything!
    I’m totally the girl who tries to remember her bag, and this 5 cents is just what i need to make sure I always have a bag with me in our diaper bag or purse. On another note i still reuse my plastic bags for diapers and gathering my recycling, but lord knows we have plenty to last us. Hooray NYC!

  2. Where I live, cashiers frown at you for bringing a dirty, nasty re-usable bag to their nice clean register. And then there is the eternal arguement, Yes I lugged these books from the back of the store, I think I can haul them another 50 feet to my car. Sigh. #iliveinthe1970s

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