Weather: Occasional drizzle, but glimpses of sun. High in the low 70s.
Alternate-side parking: In effect until Nov. 1 (All Saints Day).
If you haven’t already, now might be a good time to finally get your hands on a reusable shopping bag. This week, New York is finally enforcing its statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
The law actually went into effect last winter, but the pandemic and a lawsuit from plastic bag manufacturers delayed enforcement for months. Now, shops must avoid these bags or face fines up to $500.
Exceptions here and there mean that plastic bags won’t completely vanish, but it will certainly be harder to find the once-everyday objects. Here’s what else you need to know:
The Bag Waste Reduction Law, passed after the Democrats took control of both houses of the Legislature in 2019, was part of an effort to curb litter and minimize greenhouse emissions caused by plastic bag production.
By one estimate, New Yorkers were using about 23 billion plastic bags each year, 85 percent of which ended up in landfills, recycling machines (although they are not recyclable in most machines), waterways and streets.
New York was the second state to agree to impose such a ban, after California. At least six other states followed suit, including Vermont and Connecticut. New Jersey last month passed a bill to ban both plastic and paper single-use bags.
Why was enforcement delayed?
In February, the Bodega and Small Business Association sued the state, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional and vague. The lawsuit and enforcement of the ban then were in limbo because courts were short-staffed during the height of the pandemic in New York.
In August, the State Supreme Court struck down the lawsuit, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation later announced enforcement would begin in October.
Exceptions to the ban
Restaurants can still give out single-use plastic bags for takeout. Stores can use them for items including uncooked meat, sliced or prepared food, and prescription drugs.
Newspaper bags, garment bags and bags sold in bulk, such as trash or recycling bags, are also exempt from the rule.
What about paper bags?
If you don’t take a reusable bag to a store, paper bags will likely be available for a 5-cent fee. People who are purchasing items using food stamps are exempt from paying the paper-bag fee.
The revenue from that fee will go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and programs that distribute reusable bags.
Bodega workers were adjusting to the rule on Monday, turning down some requests for single-use plastic bags.
Jae Park, the owner of 104 Broadway Farm on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, said he stopped ordering the bags months ago but still had dozens left. Now, Mr. Park said, he has no choice but to tuck away his leftover stock.
“It’s easier for us to use plastic bags, but it’s better for the environment,” he said of the ban.
In West Harlem, Coco James, 60, carried a tote bag to a bodega near his office. “My first choice is reusable bags, but my second choice has to be plastic,” he said.
Mr. James said he supported the ban but was not convinced that paper bags were a better alternative. “I think the paper bag is a waste, too, because no one keeps them,” he said. “But people save plastic bags sometimes.”
From The Times
Want more news? Check out our full coverage.
The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.
What we’re reading
A judge ruled that shelter residents could continue to stay at the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side. [West Side Rag]
Mayor Bill de Blasio said lockdowns in some virus hot spots were likely to remain in place beyond this week. [Politico]
A look inside school buildings that have fully reopened in the state. [New York magazine]
And finally: A green library in Greenpoint
The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:
There’s a well-landscaped outdoor plaza to lounge in, and two types of gardens (one specifically for pollinators). Planted channels called bioswales can help reduce flooding, and a cistern collects rainwater.
No, the area is not a public park or a private green space for a luxury building — it’s a new, eco-friendly library in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The site, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, is opening to the public today after three years of construction and months of pandemic-related delays. In addition to plenty of outdoor space for reading, the library will also include a lab for interactive projects intended to further environmental education in the community.
“We hope that it does two things: It fuels an interest that people who already are curious about the environment might have, but also introduces some of these things,” said Linda Johnson, the Brooklyn Public Library president.
“We’ve really been in the thick of a whole series of renovations and new libraries that are coming online, and this is the first one,” Ms. Johnson added.
The project cost $23 million, part of which came from a foundation created by settlement funds from an oil spill in the area, which The Times described in 1990 as “a vast and hazardous pool of oil that has been seeping under the streets of Brooklyn” for decades. An estimated 17 million gallons of oil collected under the streets, The Times reported, making it one of the country’s largest underground spills.
The library branch includes books of all kinds. Like many public libraries across the city, it is keeping most of its indoor spaces closed because of the coronavirus. (The lobby will be open for returns and to pick up material on hold.)
“We’re thrilled about it,” Ms. Johnson said. “I think particularly so because we all need something to celebrate these days.”
It’s Tuesday — go somewhere new.
Metropolitan Diary: Spare scrunchie
I was walking along the Mall in Central Park one evening in July when I heard a man shouting.
“Does anyone have a rubber band?” he said. “The show can’t go on if I can’t get a rubber band.”
I saw a man sitting on a bench and fussing with a saxophone. There was no show, just him and an instrument that didn’t seem to be working. He said there was a problem with the G key.
I didn’t have a rubber band, but I did have a scrunchie in my hair with a rubber band inside. I gave it to him and hoped it would work.
As I continued walking, I got uncomfortably hot with my hair down. Standing near the Bethesda Fountain, I realized that I could braid my hair and tuck it up and under, and that it would stay put without any accessories.
Later, as I walked back toward the Mall, I heard the sound of a saxophone. I walked over and saw that it was the same man happily playing away, his case open for donations in front of him.
I guess my scrunchie did the trick.
— Jennifer Lynch
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