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Free reusable bags available ahead of statewide plastic bag ban

Kourtney Bevis, left,  executive director of Patchogue-Medford

Kourtney Bevis, left,  executive director of Patchogue-Medford Youth Community Services,  and Cathy Demeroto, executive director of Community Action Southold Town,  open boxes of donated reusable bags at the Long Island Cares warehouse in Hauppauge.  Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

 If you're on the hunt for free reusable bags in preparation for the state's March 1 plastic bag ban, hop on over to Stop & Shop, company spokeswoman Jennifer Brogan said Tuesday. 

The Massachusetts-based grocer kicked off its reusable bag giveaways on Saturday and still has plenty left, she said. 

"We're giving away thousands of bags and anticipate there will be plenty for shoppers who visit our stores this week," Brogan said. 

The new law, effective on Sunday, prohibits retailers from handing out single-use plastic bags to customers and gives counties and cities the choice of opting in or out of a 5-cent fee on paper bags. Suffolk opted in to the fee and Nassau opted out. 

Retailers are free to charge for bags, regardless of whether an area opts in or out. 

Customers wanting to score a free reusable bag at Stop & Shop locations in New York must bring in one or more carryout plastic bags for recycling, with a limit of one reusable bag per customer per visit, while supplies last. The offer is not valid in Long Beach, where reusable bag giveaways are not permitted by law, Brogan said.

Some government agencies are also participating in bag giveaways. 

"The Department of Environmental Conservation is distributing hundreds of thousands of reusable bags across the state," DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said.

The DEC, with the help of other state agencies, the statewide food bank organization Feeding New York and other groups, is focusing on low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, she said. 

As part of the agency's outreach and education efforts, DEC regional director Carrie Meek Gallagher on Tuesday delivered 500 reusable bags to Long Island Cares Inc., the Harry Chapin Food Bank, in Hauppauge. 

The department will be distributing free reusable bags at libraries, food pantries and other locations.  Email DEC at plasticbags@dec.ny.gov for information. 

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