With a new plastic ban in effect throughout parts of the Hudson Valley, you'll want to prepare before heading out to some of your favorite stores.

At the stroke of midnight on January 1, plastic bags have become forbidden throughout Dutchess County. A new law is now in effect that mirrors a statewide plastic bag law scheduled to start in all of New York state this March. Ulster County already has a ban on plastic bags.

So, exactly where will you need to bring your own bag in Dutchess County? The answer is pretty much everywhere.

Grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies, gas stations and any place where you purchase individual items will no longer be able to offer plastic bags. That means the next time you head to the Home Depot, the pet store, the convenience store, or pretty much anywhere in the mall, you won't be able to transport your items home in a plastic bag.

While many of these stores have already begun offering reusable bags for purchase, not all of them do. In fact, the new law doesn't force stores to provide you with a bag at all. So it's in your best interest to make sure to bring one with you when you're shopping anywhere in Dutchess County. Otherwise, you may get stuck having to juggle all of your items back to the car.

Stores will still be able to provide paper bags if they wish, but they are not required to do so, and they may also charge a fee for the bags.

There are a few exemptions to the law, however. Pharmacies can provide plastic bags for medications, but not for the rest of your shopping. Take-out restaurants and delis can also provide their customers with plastic bags if they wish. While grocery stores will no longer be able to give you plastic bags to take your items home in, they will still be able to provide them in the butcher and produce sections to hold lose items and raw meat.

If you're not in Dutchess County or Ulster County, you have two more months to get used to bringing reusable bags with you wherever you go. Are you ready for it?

We'd like to hear about your experience shopping without plastic bags for the first time. Was it a hassle, or something you think you'll be able to get used to? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

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