With yesterday's passage of the budget, New York became the second state in the country to ban most single-use plastic bags. Back when the ban was just a possibility, some voiced concerns that it did not go far enough toward corralling the masses toward reusables: People would simply lean on paper bags, which take their own environmental toll—deforestation, the heavier energy demands in producing and recycling paper, and higher waste production among the notable downsides. Plastic bag bans have only worked when coupled with a paper bag fee, critics argued, and now, New York City is taking a step in that direction.

On Tuesday, City Council members Margaret Chin, Brad Lander, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Ben Kallos, and Keith Powers announced forthcoming legislation providing for a 5-cent fee on paper bags. Proceeds from every bag sold would be divided between the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, which would get 3 cents, and the city, which would use the remainder to buy reusable bags for New Yorkers (particularly low-income and elderly New Yorkers, who might have a hard time avoiding the fee otherwise).

It bears noting that the plastic bag ban won't be total: Restaurants will still be able to package your takeout in plastic bags, delis and butchers may still wrap meats in plastic, and plastic bags for bulk items are still allowed. Newspaper and garment bags will be similarly exempted, as will trash and recycling bags.

Without mandating a statewide paper bag fee, the ban gives counties the option to enact one, and doing so is key to the policy's success, environmentalists say: Having to pay for paper encourages people to pack an extra tote or two, and means fewer single-use bags in circulation. Offering customers free paper bags, by contrast, presents "a flawed solution," Eric Goldstein, NYC Environment Director of the National Resources Defense Council, previously told Gothamist.

"Experience elsewhere has shown that a simple ban on plastic bags leads to much greater use of paper bags—or thicker plastic bags—and doesn't accomplish the primary objective of triggering a shift to reusables," Goldstein said.

In California, the only other state to enact a bag ban, a fee on paper bags accompanied the plastic ban, and things seem to be going well: "The world didn't end," as the L.A. Times editorial board pointed out a year after the ban went into effect, but fewer plastic bags littered the state's beaches.

Our beaches, trees, streets, sewers, subway tracks, whole city really, would surely benefit from fewer trash tumbleweeds blowing around, but if that is not enough to offset the fussiness you feel at the obligation to plan ahead—to leave for work in the morning with an extra bag full of bags in tow, a prerequisite for your evening grocery shop—please consider this silver lining. Slashing your paper bag consumption may also cut off an entry point for cockroaches looking to sneak into your under-sink area, paper bags being their preferred Trojan Horse. Best not to think about all the other ways they'll get in.