The Hudson Valley is the first place to officially sign a countywide ban on plastic shopping bags.

The law, which won't go into effect until July 15, declares a full ban on single-use plastic bags. The legislation also requires business owners to collect a fee for the purchase of recyclable paper bags. This makes Ulster County the very first county in New York to completely outlaw plastic bags. Other municipalities throughout the state have required stores to recycle bags and to encourage the use of reusable containers, but none have gone as far as the new Ulster County law does.

County Executive, Mike Hein, celebrated the new law, saying, "I am proud that Ulster County has become a national leader in protecting our environment while simultaneously embracing critical financial protections." Paul Gallay from Riverkeeper applauded the law which he believes "will cut plastic pollution, beautify our neighborhoods and make the Hudson cleaner and safer for people and wildlife, alike."

To ease customers into the new regulations, a six month "educational period" will go into effect this summer where there will be no enforcement of the plastic bag ban until January of 2020.

The law will require shoppers to bring their own bag or pay a fee of five cents per recyclable paper bag supplied by the store. A special provision of the law will wave the fee for those receiving SNAP (food stamps) and WIC. You can expect to see stores begin to roll out new policies soon to make sure they're in compliance with the law before it goes into effect this summer.