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New Jersey Just Banned Plastic Bags, Paper Bags, and Pretty Much Anything Used to Contain Anything Else

Source - New Jersey has officially banned single-use bags and foam containers — although the ban doesn't take effect for another year and a half. 

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed a bill into law that prohibits single-use plastic and paper bags and disposable food containers and cups made out of polystyrene foam as of May 2022. ...

Some products are exempt until 2024, including long-handled polystyrene spoons, cups of two ounces or less, meat and fish trays, any food product pre-packaged by a manufacturer, and any other foam foodservice item deemed necessary by state regulators. 

Single-use plastic straws will be available only upon request starting November 2021. 

When I first came across this link, I assumed this law was one of those wacky referendums that end up on the ballot every election, like the time Colorado wanted to set up an Extraterrestrial Affairs office or Arizona proposed giving $1 million to a random voter. Or Oregon legalizing every drug imaginable in the middle of an opioid crisis or whatever. 

But I should've known better. Because there's no chance in hell this would've gotten the approval of the New Jersey electorate. This could only have passed in the cover of darkness, in the middle of the most tumultuous election in American history. Because if anyone was paying attention, it'd be political career suicide.

Before we go any further, let me stress I am a recycling zealot. To the point I take the little plastic rings from a 4-pack of craft beers and throw them in the proper receptacle at the dump. (And I produce a LOT of those.) And I bring a reusable water bottle to the gym instead of disposable plastic. Not because I think I'm Captain Planet or I'm signalling my virtue, but because of guilt. I can't shake the image of some majestic humpback frolicking around Stellwagen Bank and then choking to death thanks to my drunken laziness. So yeah, I'm all about limiting the damage we do. Within reason. 

But this is one of those laws that sounds really good in theory that will be a disaster when it's actually enforced. You want to ban plastic bags? Fine. You want to ban plastic and paper? Good luck. May God have mercy on your soul. 

I pity anyone in Jersey when this goes into effect. Reusable shopping bags are a noble idea. But did anyone bother to measure the degree of difficulty on using those things? As much of a pain in the ass I try to be about plastic, I remember to bring the stupid things at most, 5% of the time. To the point I practically throw myself a parade any time I do. I actually got good early in the year, thanks mainly to the fact I bought one with Tom Brady on it. I am not making this up. My logic being he was on my mind 24 hours a day anyway, so I'd never forget the bag. Then he left for Tampa and Massachusetts outlawed the use of the things because they thought it would spread the 'Vid to the baggers and that good habit died in the crib.  

So try being there when a bunch of already stressed out moms from Bayonne and Paramus get to the register pushing a full cart that weighs half a ton. With a shrieking baby in the seat and a toddler on their hip having a meltdown because he wants candy from the impulse purchase rack and you tell them there are no more bags. When their only options are to trudge back out to the Nissan Rogue in the rain to get theirs or buy 20 more. There'll be riots in the cereal aisle and store managers taken hostage. 

And I'm confused as to what the endgame is supposed to be come 2024, when the ban goes into full effect. Is Jersey telling us there'll eventually be no packaging for meats and fish? How is that going to work? Does everything just sit out and need to be wrapped up for you in paper by a butcher like it's the 1920s? Again, good luck with that. But my guess is they'll never get that far. By the time they try to telling college girls they can't have their large Dunkin's Pumpkin Spice latte in a styrofoam cup and have to get their hands burned off by one of those thin cardboard sleeves that do no good, there'll be a march on the state house and this draconian overreach will be repealed. Either that or every elected official will be booted out of office by an angry electorate. 

We're Americans, dammit. We want to keep things clean and all. But when it comes down to it, you'll have to take our plastic bags and single use styrofoam take out containers from between our cold, dead hands.