Oppose the desire to stockpile before the ban on plastic bags in New Jersey. Here’s how to cook.

Plastic or not plastic.

This will be a question for New Jersey residents who – after the May 4 ban on disposable plastic bags – may find that their homes still have raging plastic in a kitchen drawer or closet.

After all, when Governor Phil Murphy signed the law in the fall of 2020, he called plastic bags “one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to the millions of discarded bags that end up in our landfills, rivers and oceans every year”.

You may find yourself in a kind of catch 22. Want to make a complete eco-friendly move, but it’s hard not to see the convenience of using the bags you already have. So what are the best tactics to take?

What should I do next month to prepare for the ban on plastic bags?

Don’t wait. The fact that the ban on disposable plastic bags starts on May 4 does not mean that next month will be free for everyone. Why not start your personal bag ban earlier?

Perhaps in April you will be tempted on these grocery or quick trips to deli to stock up on plastic bags. Try not. Get in the habit of using reusable packages or other alternatives as soon as you can. You will be doing services to all of Garden.

As long as you are fulfilling this personal mission, don’t forget to be kind. Store employees may just get used to giving you a plastic bag, said Carrie Sandal, an associate professor of biology at Ryder University.

“I’d say 40% of the time I go out with a plastic bag because (the staff) just can’t stop themselves,” Sandal said. “At the moment, it’s part of their muscular memory, but such small details are important. If we can change our thinking, it will prevent them from coming out in the first place. “

What do I do with a box or closet full of plastic bags?

The old age of “cut, reuse, recycle” is not in vain in this order. Reduction is better for the environment than reuse. But if you’ve already stockpiled a crowded pile of plastic bags, the next best thing to do is reprofile them, not recycle them.

“Reuse is better than recycling, of course,” said Patrick Josei, a professor at Stockton University and chair of sustainable development and energy science at the School of Science and Mathematics.

“Because reuse doesn’t require extra energy. When you recycle a product, you grind or remelt it and recycle it to produce new products, so you use a significant amount of energy to re-produce. Reuse does not require additional energy, ”Jose said. “The idea of ​​reusable bags is that we make the bag once and then use it (several times).”

Once the ban begins, non-food and retail stores may still provide paper bags. But grocery stores of more than 2,500 square feet (most of them 12,000 to 40,000 square feet) cannot issue paper bags.

Other tips for reusing both plastic and paper bags you already have at home: find a friend with a puppy who could use them for dog waste, or another to collect a cat toilet and re-place your bag collection in your trunk so they will be ready for the next trip to the supermarket.

If these packages are torn or become unusable for other reasons, you should recycle them so that they do not end up in a landfill, pond or on the street, NJ Advance Media experts said.

As of May 4, 2022, grocery stores, catering establishments and other retail stores in New Jersey are prohibited from selling or selling disposable plastic bags to customers.

Where can I recycle plastic bags with the products I have at home?

Although you are more resilient, why not reduce your carbon emissions by recycling these bags in the same place where you shop?

“I know some people who have full cabinets (plastic bags),” Sandal said. “Most big grocery stores have trash cans so you can bring extra bags there.”

ShopRite, Target and Stop & Shop, as well as other major brands usually have boxes available outside of stores. But feel free to call your local grocery store to see if they do too.

“Stop & Shop has identified containers for recycling plastic bags at the entrances to our stores,” said Stephanie Schumann, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop. “Disposable plastic bags in these containers are collected and processed into composite wood, which is used for things such as flooring, park benches and playground equipment.”

But be warned: don’t put these plastic bags in the trash that you put out every week.

“Although plastic shopping bags are recyclable, they should not be put in a recycling bucket. These packages kill recycling equipment in recycling centers as hair kills vacuum rollers, ”the New Jersey Department of the Environment said. “Instead, plastic bags should be recycled separately through programs set up in supermarkets.”

You can use the search tool created by the Wrapping Recycling Program, which calls itself the national online public information campaign, to find a recycling bin to throw away plastic bags near you.

You may also not be aware that some cities have long offered these services in nearby centers so that these plastic bags do not end up in one-time recycling plants.

“(If) residents dispose of plastic bags properly, it will lead to a cleaner recycling flow. As plastic bags make up more than 70% of Middleton’s recycling pollution, reducing the number of packages in the recycling stream will significantly reduce that percentage, ”Middleton officials wrote online, expanding their services.

Still have questions about banning plastic bags in New Jersey? Ask them here.

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You can contact Stephen Rhodes at srodas@njadvancemedia.com.

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