For those who slept through it, there is a new law in New Jersey tied to the plastic bag ban starting this year.

The first phase of this legislation signed into law by Gov. Phil "Progressive" Murphy called for a ban on plastic straws unless requested. This has already been in effect since Nov. 4 of last year.

Restaurants and convenience stores are no longer allowed to give out plastic straws unless the customer specifically asks for one.

But a funny thing happened on the way to saving the planet. No one seems to be following it, in my experience.

The only place I’ve had to ask for a straw is when picking up an Icee at Wawa for my daughter. They keep them behind the counter and are following the rules.

Everywhere else, in my experience, places I will describe but not name because I don’t want them to get busted, are handing out plastic straws like they always have. Burger places, chicken places, pizza joints, you name it. Even sit-down restaurants are still giving them out without the customer saying a word.

Businesses have enough to worry about in this overtaxed pandemic climate.

When we have other nations literally backing up trucks and dumping their garbage directly into waterways, ineffectual laws like these aren’t going to amount to even a blip on the radar for cleaning up the ocean. For the hopeless idealist out there they will say "well it’s a start," yes, but that’s all it is.

Will they ever actually send enforcement officers to these places to try to catch workers handing out straws? I actually hope not. Businesses have enough to worry about in this overtaxed pandemic climate. And the penalties for this could run steep. The first is a warning, then a $1,000 fine followed by an up to $5,000 fine. Imagine trying to run a mom-and-pop joint and having to pay a $5,000 fine for handing a straw to someone when you already know they want one?

A quick handing over of a straw is easy to not notice. But what will definitely be noticed, what will definitely be enforced, is the ban on plastic bags. You will no longer be given single use plastic bags in stores beginning May 4.

Welcome to East California folks.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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