Get your tote bags ready – New York has banned single use plastic retail bags, a move that makes it the second state in the nation to enact the restriction and has us cheering.

The ban will begin next March and prohibits retail shops from using plastic bags. It also allows counties in the state to opt into a 5-cent tax on paper bags, which also present environmental hazards. 

Plastic marine debris adversely affects at least 267 species globally, including 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds and 43% of marine mammals.

Sea turtles, for example, readily consume plastic bags because they look so much like jellyfish. And seabirds are prone to ingesting microplastic debris that floats. The ingestion of plastic particles can lead to impairment of feeding capacity due to blockage of the digestive system, decreased mobility, reduction of reproductive capacity, infection, suffocation and starvation.

Aquatic plastic debris not only affects animals, it can alter their habitat. As debris accumulates, habitat structure may be modified, light levels may be reduced in underlying waters and oxygen levels depleted.

In passing the ban, New York became the second state in the nation to prohibit the bags. California banned single-use plastic bags and put a fee on paper bags in 2016.

Connecticut is also considering a plastic bag ban, which Friends of Animals supported in testimony it submitted for hearings on the bill. Several municipalities in Connecticut, where FoA is headquartered, have already enacted bans. All of Hawaii’s counties have banned plastic bags as well.

Read more about how you can help protect waterways and marine life in our Action Line story here.