New Jersey residents steal shopping baskets following plastic bag ban

Shoppers in New Jersey are rebelling against the state’s ban on plastic bags by stealing hand-held shopping baskets rather than shelling out a few cents for a reusable bag. Workers at grocery stores all along the Turnpike claimed that since the plastic bag ban took effect in May due to a 2020 state legislation that outlawed the use of single-use plastic bags, shopping baskets have largely vanished from their establishments.

A ShopRite employee in the state told the New York Post, “They get nasty when they’re told that they can’t take the basket out of the store, and some walk out anyway. It is a problem at our store. People seem to think that it’s the store that came up with the bag ban and not the governor. People are stealing them because they’re forgetting their bags and don’t want to pay 34 cents for a reusable bag.” Another ShopRite employee noted that the store got rid of the baskets completely after customers started stealing them. An ACME employee in Fort Lee said “once upon a time, hand baskets were always available but these days, not anymore,” adding, “they got stolen.” 

Cafasso’s Fairway Market manager, Pedro Ramirez, said they ask customers to use discarded boxes instead of stealing the baskets. He explained, “A lot of the people don’t want to pay for the bags. They try to take the basket, but we don’t let them so we tell them to take the boxes instead of the basket.”

Some state officials are urging a revision of the prohibition. Republican state senator Michael Testa said he wants a “complete overhaul” of the bag regulations. In a recent press release, he stated, “One of the unintended consequences of the new law has been on grocery stores, where the handy ‘quick stop’ baskets people use to grab bread and milk are disappearing. So many have been taken home by shoppers that many grocers are no longer offering the convenience.”

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