Students Lead Push for Disposable Bag Fee

By Nicholas Zifcak
Nicholas Zifcak
Nicholas Zifcak
September 16, 2014 Updated: September 16, 2014

NEW YORK—Dozens of elementary, middle, and high school students lobbied City Council members Tuesday to support charging a fee for disposable bags. 

At students’ urging in March of this year, Brad Lander and Margaret Chin introduced legislation to charge 10 cents for paper and plastic disposable bags. 

So far 20 members of City Council have signed on to support the legislation. 

“I think New York should catch up to other large cities like L.A. and Washington, D.C.,” said Keanna Hunter, a sophomore at the Hewitt School who spoke at a rally at City Hall ahead of the lobbying effort.

“If the City Council passes this legislation, New York would live up to the expectation of being the greatest city in the world,” said Hunter.

If passed, grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, and street vendors would have to charge 10 cents for both plastic and paper bags, while restaurants and liquor stores would be exempted. 

For students, the effort is also a chance to be part of the legislative process and find their voice as citizens in a democracy. 

Students from across New York gathered at the Hewitt School where they received training from environmental advocates. They learned how to put together a short but convincing presentation to present to City Council members.

Safe Environment

When students heard about how many disposable bags New York uses, students decided to do something about it.

“We want to make the world a better place where it’s a safe environment and we are not polluting it everywhere,” said Corinna, an eighth grader at M.S. 51 in Brooklyn. 

The lobbying effort was timed to coincide with the upcoming U.N. Climate Summit and Sept. 21 People’s Climate March. 

Public hearings for the legislation will likely be held this fall.