Plastic bag ban begins this weekend in New York

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Some big changes will take effect for New York businesses this weekend as the state takes steps to be more eco-friendly. Our Kelly O'Brien tells us what the plastic bag ban means for you.

New York state wants you to toss the habit of using single-use plastic bags and switch to reusable bags. They're more sustainable. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags a year.

"I think a lot of our customers are environmentally conscious," said Carol Czaja of the North Country Food Co-op.

At the co-op, every day is Earth Day. They have always offered reusable bags and recycled plastic bags for their shoppers.

"Plastic isn't a great thing and doesn't decompose well," Czaja said.

Not all North Country shoppers share the same mindset.

"It's going 50/50. Some people like it, some people don't," said Mike Yando of the Yando Big M Grocery Store.

At Yando's, they've run out of plastic bags and already switched over to paper or reusable bags. But the change comes at a cost for the grocery store.

"We charge a nickel. They cost us about nine cents," Yando said. "Plastic bags for 1,000 bags to a case was $18. Paper bags for 500 for the big paper sacks is about $54."

The DEC says to recycle any bags leftover. If a store were to continue handing the bags out to their customers, it could lead to penalties down the line.

"Primarily, we're focused on education efforts first, but ultimately we do have an obligation to enforce the law and there are penalties that were associated with this law," said Sean Mahar of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Back at the Food Co-op, they think the bag ban is the start of something big in New York.

"Plastic bags are just the beginning. We encourage people to rethink their whole consumption habits," Czaja said.

The ban starts on Sunday. That means any store in the state that collects sales tax will no longer be able to give you a plastic bag.