(ABOVE: Pillow from Washington General Store; plastic courtesy of various other retailers…)
“Single-use plastic bags are incredibly wasteful and destructive to our community and the environment,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, in his June 6, 2018 statement. “The US wastes hundreds of billions of these bags every year. This ban is a reasonable way we as Hobokenites can do our part to cut down on litter and pollution.”
According to the City of Hoboken, on average, an individual uses 500 single-use plastic bags each year.
Hoboken’s move was announced on the very heels of neighboring Jersey City’s initiative, and unanimously approved by the City Council on June 22, 2018. The trend to removed single-use plastic has been an ever-growing effort nationwide. For what it’s worth, this publication has repeatedly discussed this issue. In fact, the publisher of this publication has been advocating this in Hoboken since 2007, in his days as a columnist with the Hudson Reporter.
We point all this out to illustrate that THIS HAS BEEN COMING FOR A LONG TIME. People have been banging this drum for awhile now—and for good reason.
(ABOVE: Seals in Jersey City, via Wild Jersey City)
Hoboken sits at the mouth of the Hudson River, which flows into New York Harbor and directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Plastic bags are very dangerous for sea life—especially dolphins, seals or turtles—as they are the most likely to mistake the plastic bag for food. Provided they don’t asphyxiate from initially ingesting the bag, they’re facing slow and painful death from toxicity or intestinal blockage.
Then there’s the overall effect of floating trash. Polyethylene is not readily biodegradable, which means this stuff will be floating around for the foreseeable future. It’s up to us, the consumer, to do everything we can to keep these items from entering our ecosystem. The less plastic bags we use, the less likely they are to find their way into the trees or rivers.
Still haven’t convinced you? You’re not at all concerned about trees, rivers, seals, etc.? That’s cool…
Litter is detrimental to property value. A significant portion of litter in urban environments is attributable to single-use plastic bags. Convenient as those bags may be, this initiative is aimed at finding a better solution.
Spearheaded by the Hoboken Green Team, the City’s single-use plastic bag ban will be implemented as follows:
- No Plastic Bags
- Paper Bags available at a cost to the consumer (10-25 cents)
- Reusable bags are encouraged, and no additional fee (obviously) will be charged to consumers who bring their own bags
Regarding the fee for paper bags—it is not a tax. The fee is charged by the retailer, to compensate the retailer for the additional cost of the paper bags—thereby mitigating the impact on local businesses.
The rules are the same for restaurant take-out/delivery—another major contributor to the influx of single-use plastic bags. Take-out will be in paper bags or reusable bags brought in by the consumer. For delivery, restaurants are encouraged to explore reusable bags or even insulated bags, which can serve to maintain food temperatures while proving to be even more durable than single-use plastic.
“Hoboken is committed to environmentally friendly policies that help mitigate the impact of climate change and reduce pollution on our streets,” said Mayor Bhalla. “This ban, initiated by the Hoboken Green Team,will go a long way to reducing Hoboken’s reliance on harmful plastic bags, and I’m proud Hoboken is at the forefront of progressive environmental policies.”
Before everbody freaks out, the following bags are still allowed for free:
• Produce bags (fruits and vegetables)
• Product bags (packaging)
• Bags used to contain frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers, plants or baked goods
• Pharmacy prescription bags
• Newspaper bags
• Laundry or dry-cleaning bags
• Packages of multiple bags (food storage bags, garbage bags, pet waste bags)
The City will consider a request for a temporary exemption from the plastic bag ban under extraordinary circumstances. Businesses must fill out this form to be considered: https://seam.ly/t6kOgcxj.
In preparation of the ban, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the Hoboken Green Team will be handing out free reusable bags, obtained through a Clean Communities grant, at the following events:
- Rotary Club Meeting: January 15, 12 PM at Brass Rail
- Columbian Arms Resident Meeting: January 17, 6:30 PM at Columbian Arms
- Hoboken Elks Winter Festival: January 19 at 4 PM
- Mutzfest: January 27, 2-6 PM at Hoboken Elks Lodge
- Hoboken State of the City Address: January 29, 6:30 PM at Stevens Institute of Technology
- Stevens Institute of Technology: January 30 at 3 PM at Pierce Dining Hall
- Hudson County’s bike share program, JerseyBike, alongside Don’t Sit Home, is also hosting an event to distribute reusable bags to the community in Hoboken on January 15, 2019 from 6 pm – 8 pm, at Union Hall Hoboken.
For more information on the new plastic bag regulations, please visit www.hobokennj.gov/plasticbags.
Will this be an adjustment? Sure, it will… and it’ll obviously take some getting used to.
Other nations, other states, other cities have taken these steps. Even our loud, noisy neighbors to the east are weighing the option. While they’re not necessarily the easiest steps to take, they’re certainly worth taking.
- Leave your reusable bags by the door, so you remember to grab them before you go out.
- Keep reusable bags in your car, or in a pack on your bicycle/scooter/stroller.
- Find bags that are easily compactible, so you can fit them in a purse, backpack or pocket.
- BONUS: Fellas, now is the time to reassert the functional superiority of cargo pants…
We just want to take this opportunity to remind everyone reading this right now that you’re descended from a strong, determined line of human stock that not only survived but thrived on this harsh planet for millennia… without the convenience of single-use plastic bags.
You’ve got this, Hoboken. We have faith in you.
If nothing else, think of all the space you’ll save in that cupboard, where you’ve been jamming all these things for years.
— Hoboken Things (@HobokenThings) January 11, 2019
In time, hopefully we’ll come to appreciate the effort we’re making. Because no one should want to see more of this: