Several East End town and village officials recently announced a coordinated effort to reduce litter by banning single-use plastic bags and by raising awareness for the initiative and environmental policies through education campaigns, which could begin as soon as April 22, 2015, which happens to be Earth Day.
"I think everyone agrees that eliminating single-use plastic bags as a form of litter is an excellent goal," Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst
said. "Working together to enact legislation on a regional basis provides an opportunity to achieve the greatest results and send a coordinated and non-partisan message about the measure's environmental significance, while ensuring a level playing field for East End businesses."
Officials in the towns of Southampton, East Hampton and Riverhead, and in the villages of Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, North Haven, West Hampton Dunes and Quogue have agreed to introduce the legislation within the next month. The East Hampton Town Board held its first public hearing during its meeting on Thursday, November 20th. Work sessions and public feedback will help to determine if the legislation will be adopted.
As of now, over 130 American cities and counties have passed plastic bag bans and regulations in order to help reduce the nearly 330 bags per person used in the United States, amounting to billions of bags used annually and an influx of litter and unnecessary garbage.
"Worldwide, the accumulation of plastic pollutes miles upon miles of shoreline and extends to all depths of the sea, harming our environment and ourselves, as well as marine and other wildlife," East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. "Without this regional effort among local towns and villages, the plastic bags targeted by this initiative would only continue the detrimental build-up of litter across the East End and beyond."
Many East End mayors and supervisors are supportive of the ban and its potential benefits for Long Island's beaches, woods, waterways, parks, hiking trails, and other aspects of the environment. Leaders in this pursuit are the villages of Southampton and East Hampton, where single-use plastic bag bans have been in place since 2011 and 2012.
"The program has been extremely successful and the Village retailers have been supportive in this regard," East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach said. "We encourage our local government neighbors to join us in this endeavor."
If the legislation is adopted by participating towns and villages recycled paper bags, produce bags and plastic bags with a thickness of at least 2.25 mils would not be banned, however, customers will be strongly encouraged to bring reusable bags when shopping.