New York State's ban on single-use plastic bags at retailers begins March 1 and the state is conducting an education and outreach campaign to ensure that New Yorkers are aware of the upcoming ban. One part of the campaign is the distribution of 270,000 reusable shopping bags by the State Department of Environmental Conservation through stakeholders and industry associations, including the Food Industry Alliance, the Retail Council, the New York Association of Convenience Stores, and New York State agencies.

And if you are wondering if you will be charged for paper bags provided at retailers if you forget reusable bags when you shop, be aware that some retailers will be encouraging people to utilize reusable bags by charging 5 cents for each paper bag needed from that store.  Gap, Hannaford, Price Chopper/Market 32, Tops and Wegmans are among the retailers that will start charging customers a nickel for each paper bag at checkout.  Other stores will provide them for free, however, consumers should be aware that paper bags, like plastic, have a high environmental impact. Paper is much more expensive for retailers to supply.

As it stands New York State has given counties and cities the choice of whether or not they want to impose a 5 cent per bag charge at retailers.  Currently, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Counties are not opting for the 5 cent fee on bags.

Keep in mind that this plastic bag ban covers all retail stores, not just grocery stores.