October 7, 2022

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7 Things We Learned In The First Week Of New Jersey’s Strict Ban Of Plastic Bags, Styrofoam

New Jersey plastic ban bags Officially in effect, NJ Advance Media is reporting its initial impact throughout the week. Our reporters visited more than six large chains across the state and spoke to dozens of shoppers about the experience. Along the way, there were plenty of lessons to be learned about New Jersey’s strict ban on single-use plastic bags statewide.

The law was signed by Governor Phil Murphy on November 4, 2020, means grocery stores, restaurants, schools, takeaways, movie theaters, food trucks, retail stores and other businesses that can no longer deliver or sell single-use plastic bags. It also restricts grocers from providing or selling paper bags. Since its entry into force on Wednesday morning at All New Jersey storesShoppers have reacted mixed – some welcome the push towards sustainability Others said they were frustrated with the new rules. Obviously, the law will take some time to get used to, so here are some tips from the first week that may help you adapt.

Customers want free reusable bags

Customers NJ Advance Media spoke to at half a dozen stores across the Garden State on Wednesday said that reusable bags should be provided free of charge. Gifts have been held by the non-profit NJ Clean Communities Council but stores are not obligated to hand them out for free.

“I have a box full of (reusable) bags,” said Paola Fortuchi, 78, of Sicklerville while visiting Wegmans in Cherry Hill. “I was ready. But they should make these reusable bags free for people. It is not right that they are charging them.”

Mardel Zuniga, 35, of Maple Shade, went grocery shopping with her 8-month-old and 2-year-old in her cart. Little did you know that records reusable bag stores come with an extra fee. She said she hoped stores would consider hosting more gifts but would prefer to make single-use plastic bags available in the meantime.

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“It’s good but it’s bad. It’s good that they’re trying to save the planet but what are we supposed to do? It’s inconvenient. I should already remember to bring the baby bag and other things for them. Now I have to remember to bring those.”

Reminders go a long way

The Wegmans parking lot in Cherry Hill has created a steady stream of shoppers with reusable bags on hand. Some customers weren’t there when they first got out of the car, but upon seeing a large sign in the grocery store parking lot (two at each grocery cart drop-off location) they paused to grab their reusable bags from their bins.

ShopRite in Gibbstown had no bag signs outside, too, except for those on the glass windows. Those who are ignorant of the prohibition did not see them until they reached the entrance. At a Walmart in Cherry Hill, there were absolutely no signs in the parking lot. However, the stand at the entrance to the store announced the ban and the friendly staff reminded you as you walked in.

It seems that in both of these places and other stores, parking signage will go a long way.

You must make your own reminder. After you’ve unpacked your items at home, don’t wait to return a set of reusable bags to your car or purse for your next shopping trip. This will reduce the chance of forgetting the bag from now on or falling into a bagless bag when making an unexpected purchase.

Don’t skip the bag, even if you’re running fast to the store

Just because you only pick up a few items doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the bags automatically. An innocent shopping trip can become a stressful job before you know it.

A croissant at Wegmans bakery or a latte at Target Starbucks, for example, might tempt you for a quick snack. This becomes a more difficult proposition when you don’t buy or bring a reusable bag and balance two or three items you’ve purchased. So it can be helpful to have at least one reusable bag, no matter what.

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MOM’s Organic Market in Paramus no longer provides single-use plastic or paper bags to their customers due to a bag ban in New Jersey. Wednesday 4 May 2022.Paul Zimmerman | For NJ Advance Media

You can be creative

Shoppers seemed to adjust to the lack of plastic and paper bags at the cash register. For example, customers visiting Bergen City Center in Paramus have been observed using the shopping bags they received from other retailers in the mall to hold items purchased from bag-free stores such as Whole Foods Market and Target.

There were also an astonishing number of people who simply walked out of the store either carrying their stuff or pushing their merchandise into the cart – whether it was just because it was day one of the ban or to indicate consumer preference, that’s another matter.

Free reusable bags will be appreciated

Customers NJ Advance Media spoke to at half a dozen stores across the Garden State on Wednesday said that reusable bags should be provided free of charge. Gifts have been held by the non-profit NJ Clean Communities Council but stores are not obligated to hand them out for free.

“I have a box full of (reusable) bags,” said Paola Fortuchi, 78, of Sicklerville while visiting Wegmans in Cherry Hill. “I was ready. But they should make these reusable bags free for people. It is not right that they are charging them.”

Mardel Zuniga, 35, of Maple Shade, went grocery shopping with her 8-month-old and 2-year-old in her cart. Little did you know that records reusable bag stores come with an extra fee. She said she hoped stores would consider hosting more gifts but would prefer to make single-use plastic bags available in the meantime.

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“It’s good but it’s bad. It’s good that they’re trying to save the planet but what are we supposed to do? It’s inconvenient. I should already remember to bring the baby bag and other things for them. Now I have to remember to bring those.”

Customers want convenience

One of the most common concerns about the plastic bag ban before it came into effect was that it would upset consumers. While shoppers certainly seemed to adjust this week, it was clear that shoppers had missed the ease of tossing their belongings into a readily available plastic bag.

Bloomfield resident Carlos Pena walked out of the city’s Stop & Shop Wednesday morning carrying supplies for his daughter’s birthday party that day in a shopping cart. It was a smaller load, so he didn’t mind leaving the bags behind this time but Pena said he usually has “a lot of items” and relies on plastic grocery bags to pack his merchandise quickly.

It appears that affordable, plentiful, reusable, centrally located bags that are available for purchase will go a long way toward winning over customers who previously backed away from the ubiquity of plastic bags.

Please keep your cart listings full

As if there weren’t enough reasons to thank grocery workers, dozens made the rounds in and out of parking lots on Wednesday in New Jersey. They reminded customers of the ban but also – more importantly – kept their cart delivery sites full.

This means that people who arrive with a set of reusable bags or plastic bags from home immediately have a place to put them.

For more information about ban visit nj.com/plasticbagban. Still have questions about the plastic bag ban in New Jersey? Ask them here.

Jackie Roman can be reached at [email protected]. Stephen Rodas can be reached at [email protected].