Kenya this week made it official: Anyone manufacturing, importing, selling or even using plastic bags faces thousands of dollars in fines or up to four years in jail. It’s not just shopping bags; garbage bags also count. The ban could help reduce the hundreds of millions of plastic bags used in Kenya each year, but it’s also controversial, as many Kenyans rely on plastic bags to carry charcoal for heating and cooking, or even for sanitation. Still, the BBC reports that people are already adapting by wrapping goods in old newspapers or carrying them in their hands.

John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.

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