New York City is considering a bag tax, so it’s time to re-watch “Plastic State of Mind”

plastic bag parody music video
Video screen capture "Plastic State of Mind"

New York City legislators are considering a bill that would place a ten cent fee on disposable shopping bags, in a effort to cut down on litter and waste associated with both paper and plastic single-use bags.

And what better moment is there for “Plastic State of Mind”? In 2010, a group of activists from Green Shangha re-wrote NYC’s unofficial anthem, “Empire State of Mind,” and created this bombastic parody. The music video is written and directed by Ben Zolno, and features the voices of AshEL Eldridge rapping and Jenni Perez belting out the chorus. There are also some pretty intense plastic bag monster costumes. TreeHugger covered it at the time, but the song is obviously a relevant rallying cry for New Yorkers who are sick of seeing plastic bags blowing around our streets and clinging to our trees.

According to The Nature Conservancy’s New York City program, the city throws away a whopping 10 billion single-use bags per year. Not only is that a lot of garbage, but it also creates a lot of litter and pollution. Plastic bags in particular pose a threat to environmental health, because they can release toxins as they degrade slowly—negatively affecting both animals and people.

Plastic bag bans and taxes have been gaining momentum around the county, and have been put into action in cities including Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Research published last month suggests fees like the one proposed for New York work not only because people want to avoid the extra expense, but also because they help remind people of their intentions to make eco-friendly choices.

One fun tidbit from the video’s YouTube page: the plastic bags used to create the bag monsters were collected from litter on the street, “After the shoot, the bags went back to the homes or put back onto the costume.”

To learn more about the New York City ban, visit

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