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The City Council is nearing a decision on a proposed 5-cent tax on paper and plastic bags used by grocery and retail stores, but Queens residents have mixed feelings over the idea.

Councilman Brad Lander and Councilwoman Margaret Chin, the bill’s sponsors, indicated that the tax provides an incentive for shoppers to use reusable eco-friendly bags. According to Lander’s office, more than $12.5 million worth of city resources are spent on cleaning up plastic bags from streets, parks and beaches every year.

The concern surrounding this tax however, is that it will be yet another financial burden placed on New York residents. Councilman Eric Ulrich agrees with this sentiment.

“The proposed plastic bag fee is just another way to nickel and dime New Yorkers, who already pay some of the highest taxes and utility rates in the nation,” Ulrich said. “It’s a regressive tax that will burden seniors and low-income families the most.”

A number of New Yorkers have rallied against the bill, also feeling that there is a more beneficial way to be progressive. The “Bag the Tax” movement looks to promote the idea that these bags can indeed be recycled and that putting in more of an effort to do so will help the economy while keeping our city clean.

Shoppers at the Bay Terrace Stop & Shop had mixed feelings about the bag tax becoming a reality.

“I would never want to pay that. On days where I have 10 or 15 bags, I’ll have to pay 50 cents or more. That’s way too much,” exclaimed Yvette Franco.

Another shopper, Sue Feliciano, felt that the bill might be a good way to convince New Yorkers to be more environmentally conscious: “I think it’s a great idea, as long as it’s really helping the environment. There’s too much plastic floating around this city.”

Councilman Donovan Richards has a similar hope for this bill as he fully understands the dangers of neglecting our environment.

“As a representative of Far Rockaway, I saw firsthand after Hurricane Sandy, how much damage climate change can have on our coastal cities,” he said. “Plastic bags are polluting our oceans at disastrous levels, so we need to do our part in New York City to eliminate our plastic bag waste like so many other cities around the globe have done already.”

Both City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio have indicated their support for a 5-cent tax on every bag. The original bill called for a 10-cent tax, but it was later reduced to 5 cents. The City Council could vote on the tax during its meeting this week.


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