Queens Library to eliminate plastic bags throughout the borough

Queens Library to eliminate plastic bags throughout the borough
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Naeisha Rose

The Queens Public Library System will stop offering plastic bags to readers at all 63 of its branches throughout the borough on June 30, according to its Chief Executive Officer Dennis Walcott.

“We appreciate that plastic bags are convenient, but the consequences of convenience are too great,” Walcott said. “Plastic bags harm the health of wildlife, humans and marine life, litter our streets, sidewalks, trees, parks, yards and beaches and are costly to produce.”

According to Walcott, the library system was prompted to stop distributing plastic bags by some of its customers.

The library’s complete phase-out of plastic bags will come a little over a month after the April 22 Earth Day Network 2018 campaign to reduce plastic pollution around the world.

The Earth Day Network is a nonprofit that partners with local, state, national, and global organizations that want to protect the most vulnerable citizens of the world from the impact of climate change on people’s health and communities.

More than one billion people from 195 countries participate each year in Earth Day activities, according to earthday.org.

Helping to preserve the environment in New York is the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter for the state.

“Plastic bags are an environmental menace – littering our parks, despoiling our communities and clogging our waterways, all with the potential to strangle and poison wildlife,” said Roger Downs, the director of the Sierra Club for New York.

Environmental advocate groups, the New York League of Conservation Voters and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, were delighted by Queens Library’s actions to eliminate plastic bags from its dozens of branches.

“While we continue to push for statewide action on carryout bags from our leaders in Albany, the Queens Library will immediately make a huge difference by taking 24 tons of plastic out of the waste stream,” said President Marcia Bystryn of the Conservation Voters. “This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, litter, truck traffic, and most importantly, it will help encourage its millions of patrons to make a positive change in their own behavior to benefit the environment.”

Eddie Bautista, the executive director of NYCEJA, shared Bystryn’s sentiments.

“We need more organizations like the Library and leaders like Dennis Walcott at the local level to continue to counteract what’s happening in Washington,” Bautista said.

Queens Library will be encouraging its customers to bring reusable bags going forward.

“Together we can ensure that public libraries remain the greenest way to read,” said Walcott.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.