Plastic bag ban takes effect across New York state
New York's ban on plastic bags officially began Sunday.
Shoppers can either bring their own reusable bags or pay 5 cents for a paper bag.
New Yorkers have had over a year to get ready for the change since the law was passed.
The purpose of the ban is to be more environmentally friendly.
The Department of Sanitation says New York residents and visitors use about 10 billion single-use bags a year. Officials say plastic bags can contaminate recycling and clog machinery. The bags also litter communities, as they are often seen flying around sidewalks and getting stuck in trees. Plastic bags can also end up in the city's waterways, impacting wildlife.
Residents say while it is a little frustrating, it's better for the environment.
The plastic bags that are used for prescriptions and fruits and vegetables are still available at no cost.
Businesses that are found to still be handing out plastic bans could face fines in the future. The city's environmental agency is holding off on imposing penalties to businesses until April 1 because the ban is currently the subject of a lawsuit.
The 5-cent fee does not apply to New York residents enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program for Women, Infants and Children.