By Eve Nevelos, Editorial Staff (‘24) 

As of May 4, 2022, the New Jersey state bag ban is in effect. Single-use plastic carry-out containers and styrofoam are prohibited for businesses to sell or provide. Additionally, single-use paper bags can be used and sold, except in stores over 2500 square feet. Businesses are permitted to sell reusable bags – or give them out for free – if they choose. Stores had 18 months to prepare, as the bill was passed in November 2020. As of November 4, 2021, plastic straws are only available by request of a customer instead of by default. 

NJ’s plastic bag ban is amongst the strictest in the country. That being said, trash bags, ziplock bags, dog waste bags, and other forms of plastic are still permitted for sale and use. The ban aims to reduce unnecessary plastic waste, reduce the amount of plastic entering the waterways and decrease the amount of greenhouse gasses being emitted because of plastic production. The production and incineration of plastic add over 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere each year. 

Since the law recently went into effect, it’s a commonplace to see customers in grocery stores forgetting their reusable bags and needing to buy them for a fee at the checkout. It’s recommended that all New Jersey residents start keeping a stash of reusable bags in their cars. Some stores no longer offer them. It may also be worth buying a collapsible metal straw and a pair of folding cutlery to keep in handbags. 

Drumbeats did a voluntary survey in early May through Schoology to see what some Indian Hills students think of the new plastic bag ban. 86.5% of students who filled out the survey said that they support the ban, 8.1% said they have no opinion, and 5.4% said they do not support the ban. 

Sophomore Cassie Heinsohn explained why she supports the ban: “The ban might take some getting used to, but I think it’s important if we want to move towards a greener, healthier, and safer planet.” 

Senior Jaden Mayer-Costa agrees, saying, “Although I will miss the convenience of being able to carry out groceries with plastic bags, I understand the importance of making such a switch for the betterment of the environment and Earth.”

There are many benefits to decreasing the state’s reliance on plastic bags, one of which is beautification. Katherine Barzola, a freshman, commented, “This is a great opportunity to save the planet, and we should look forward to seeing less plastic on the ground.” 

Kaylee Anton, thae freshman, feels similarly: “The plastic bag ban is a very beneficial thing that will come to NJ. Many plastic bags pollute the streets and sidewalks. Removing them will not only make our town look cleaner but make nature healthier and alive once more.”

Not all students agree that the ban is a good thing. “There’s already just so much pollution this isn’t going to really bring in much change. What’s the point of banning plastic bags when half the food bought at the grocery store is already wrapped in plastic.  It’s just like paper straws at McDonald’s they give you a paper straw yet the whole cup is plastic. It’s just more for show than actually doing anything,” says Samantha Goworek, a freshman who doesn’t support the bag ban. 

Lily Duarte, a sophomore, counterargues, saying, “While I definitely don’t think this will completely resolve the issue of pollution, I think that taking baby steps like this are essential to making a cleaner planet.”

Some students are worried regard to the ban. Senior Sydney Chiang stated, “I support it, but I’m concerned about whether they will continue to push for change. I fear that people will just settle for this to help the environment and ignore any other [enviromental] threats.” 

Charlotte Manning, a freshman, agrees: “I think that the plastic bag ban isn’t extensive enough. We all need to be doing more to combat the climate crisis, and although this is a great step forward, it doesn’t stop a lot of harmful plastic from entering the environment. For example, all of the plastic used in an Amazon package or a box containing technology far outweighs the amount from plastic bags. Despite this, I think that the plastic bag ban is a great thing, and I really hope that more action is taken by the New Jersey government in the future!”

Although there is still more to be done, decreasing New Jersey’s plastic bag and styrofoam usage is a step in the right direction for reducing the state’s environmental impact. Adjusting habits and expectations can take a while, but likely, customers won’t think twice about bringing their reusable bags into grocery stores in a year.