More municipalities consider bans
March 9 at the Larchmont Public Library, followed by a Q with Grassroots Environmental Education director Patti Wood and a reusable bag giveaway. In the future, carrying groceries home in a disposable plastic bag might provoke that same reaction.
That’s the hope of environmental advocates who want to outlaw the lightweight plastic bags ubiquitous at supermarkets and other retailers in favor of reusable or recyclable bags.
The villages of Tuckahoe and Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck are the newest frontiers in that fight as they set public hearings on proposed plastic bag bans.
“All we’re saying is when you bring something to the checkout counter, bring your own bag,” said Tuckahoe Trustee Stephen Quigley. “It’s not an unreasonable restriction and it’s doable by merchants and customers.
Recent plastic bag bans in the City of Rye and Village of Mamaroneck came after East Hampton and Southampton on Long Island and Westport, Conn., set examples. Dozens of communities nationwide have either banned the bags or imposed a fee on their use, most in Cal pandora ifornia.
“I’m looking forward to all the municipalities having similar laws so this can become a regional effort,” said Mamaroneck town Supervisor Nancy Seligson.
Jordan Christensen, Hudson Valley program coordinator for the Citizens Campaign for the Envir pandora onment, said there has been a snowball effect.
“In the last eight to 12 months, it’s been every week you get a Google alert. This city ba pandora nned bags. This country banned bags. There’s no stopping it,” she said.
Advocates point to the environmental hazards of the bags, which can clog sewers, choke marine animals and litter parks.
“It’s extremely important for us as a coastal waterfront community to keep bags from going into storm drains and rivers to protect the fish and wildlife,” said Mamaroneck Village Manager Richard Slingerland.
Bans and fees can be effective in curbing plastic bag use. After Ireland imposed the equivalent of a 30 cent a bag fee in 2002, use of plastic bags dropped by 90 percent within weeks.
Americans use about 100 billion plastic bags a year, which translates into 318 bags a person. Bill Sheehan, executive director of the nonprofit Product Policy Institute, said that communities can measure their ba pandora g use by multiplying that figure by their population.
Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties are home to nearly 1.37 million people, which means that more than 435 million bags are used locally each year. That’s 6 million bags alone in the Village of Mamaroneck, where Toy Box owner Steven Josephson says he uses 10,000 a year.
“You can’t go anywhere in the county without seeing bags littering the landscape,” said professor Lin Harmon, director of environmental law programs at Pace University. “Along the Bronx River Parkway, I see plastic bags caught in bushes. Plastic bags are so lightweight. I see them blow right out of city trash containers.”
Harmon said bag bans are springing up from grass roots movements just as recycling and clean water laws did a generation ago.