As states try to top each other in environmental consciousness, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that, as of June 27, it will no longer be legal to purchase or otherwise acquire single-catch poké balls in the Empire State.
The move comes on the heels of the recent ban of single-use plastic bags, which took effect in March. Such bags were once ubiquitous at grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets, but now they have been largely replaced by paper bags or multiuse bags, both of which come at an additional cost to the consumer.
“Discarded poké balls have wreaked havoc on our environment,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement released yesterday evening announcing his new agenda. “They’re being found in rivers, lakes, parks, on the side of the road. Pretty much everywhere you can think of. This mentality of trainers who only use a poké ball once has got to stop.”
The primary issue arises in cases where trainers unsuccessfully try to catch a wild pocket monster that breaks out of a poké ball and escapes. Broken balls are often left where they lie, and as such they have begun to litter the landscape.
Originally, poké balls were made of apricorns. As a naturally occurring fruit of the Johto region, apricorns can be easily composted or even left where they lie to be consumed by wildlife, although apricorn poké balls still contained other components that were not as environmentally friendly.
With the recent boom in newer trainers scouring the world for pokémon, however, the manufacture of poké balls has become big business, with major players like Silph Co., Devon Corporation, and Kalos entering the field. None of these companies has been very forthcoming in detailing the materials they use for poké ball production, but many suspect that newer poké balls are entirely synthetic and do not decompose quickly.
New York is leading the charge on a ban of single-use poké balls, but other states may not be far behind. California has already signaled a willingness to institute a similar ban, and grassroots campaigns have popped up in at least five other states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, New Jersey, and Oregon.
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo is hoping the new ban will elicit behavior changes beyond merely the use of one-time poké balls. “We need to get out of the habit of trying to trap and tame every pokémon we run across,” he said in yesterday’s statement. “Nobody actually needs to catch them all.”