Village Plastic Bag Ban Starts Sunday

Filmmaker tells how a plan for a short film on plastic bags led her on a journey of discovery about hazards of some plastics.

This Sunday, Southampton Village environmental advocates will see their effort to outlaw single-use plastic shopping and take-out bags at village stores and markets come to fruition as the takes effect.

While paper bags and extra-large plastic bags typical of clothing stores will still be permitted, starting Sunday giving customers the plastic "T-shirt bags" most often seen at grocery stores, take-out eateries and pharmacies will be a violation of village code.

Roger Blaugh, a Southampton Village resident and real estate agent, helped lead the charge as co-chair of the SAVE committee, Southampton Advocates for the Village Environment, to introduce the plastic bag law to the village board members and have them approve it. In , Blaugh credits much of his motivation in reducing the use of plastics to the documentary film "Bag It," which explores the impact of plastics on health and the environment. SAVE hosted a screening of the film last month.

“It starts with bags and goes into other single-use disposable items, like bottles, and cups and plastic silverware — all that kind of nutty stuff," Suzan Beraza, the director of "Bag It," explained in an interview this week.

Beraza lives in Telluride, Colo., a ski town, which she said is similar to Southampton, as both are resort areas. She said the film arose when her town and Aspen, Colo. competed to see whose residents could reduce their use of plastic bags the most. What started as a short film grew into a much longer documentary as she and the subject of the film, Telluride morning show host Jeb Berrier, found more to investigate about plastics.

“During the course of the film, [Berrier] and his wife find out they’re going to have a baby,” Beraza noted. That event carries the film into exploring plastic products' effect on health and pregnancy, such as the effects of BPA and phalites, found in personal care products like lotions, makeup, perfumes and shampoos. Beraza said chemicals suspected of being endocrine disruptors and causing cancer are pervasive, but warning labels are not required.

Concerning the environmental impact of plastics, Beraza said both marine and land animals eat plastic bags and other products, which often proves fatal. One of the things she found out during the making of the film that got her the most incensed was the amount of plastic garbage in the ocean, she said, specifically  the North Pacific Gyre, often called the "garbage patch," where fish, sea turtles and other marine life eat floating plastic.

Since the making of "Bag It," Telluride has banned plastic bags and required a fee for paper bags. Now, nine out of 10 residents bring their own reusable bags to shop, Beraza said. While several local grocery stores in Southampton Town offer incentives to customers to bring reusable bags, “human psychology is — while it's great to get an incentive — people react much much more strongly to a fee being charged,” she said.

Blaugh and SAVE co-chair Mackie Finnerty will be stationed outside the Southampton Village on Sunday between 1 and 2 p.m. giving away reusable bags donated by local merchants.

That day Waldbaum's will begin charging 5 cents each for paper bags and donate the profit to the Peconic Land Trust, an East End farming, open space and parkland preservation nonprofit. Reusable shopping bags made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material will be sold for 99 cents each. Customers will get 5 cents off their grocery bill each time they reuse a bag. The store will also carry Peconic Land Trust-branded merchandise, and contribute the profiles to the trust.

Fran November 06, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Thanks SAVE committe for all your efforts in getting this legislation passed.Hope the town of Southampton will inspire other towns on the East End to follow. Let' s all take pride in keeping our beautiful towns,waterways and roadways free of plastic litter, locals and visitors.
Brendan J. O'Reilly November 06, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Just want to note that the ban only effects the Village of Southampton, not all of Southampton Town.
Douglas Lober November 06, 2011 at 07:30 PM
This is the beginning of something great for Southhampton Village! Great work guys and thanks for being a front runner and advocate for the cause. http://reusethisbag.com
Michele November 06, 2011 at 08:57 PM
use all the bags next year for heidi contest!
UncommonSense November 07, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Ughh. What about all of the plastic that you get from the store? Bottles, Plastic Wrap, Plastic Bags for Bread, etc... "Clam Shell" Containers. Plastic bags for Cold Cuts... What about the plastic garbage bags we load all of this stuff into before it's sent off to the dump.? Practically everything in the supermarket is wrapped in plastic or non recyclable pasteboard boxes. The "no plastic bags" law is a sanctimonious inconvenience that does nothing to solve the real problem of plastics in our every day environment. Funny, the one plastic item that I DO wind up reusing from the super market are these grocery bags. Everything else goes straight into the trash. Doesn't anyone remember when we switched TOO plastic grocery bags in the 70's? We were supposed to be "saving the trees" which were "At RISK" because of all of the PAPER BAGS people used for groceries back then. The cycle of politically correct sheep being led to the corporate slaughter house goes round and round. We did not need this ridiculous "law". Learn to think for your self. Try to see the bigger picture. Don't just jump on board with some idiot's plan so you can pat your self on the back and tell your friends what a great job "you've" done saving the environment. Think about it the next time you are out "walking for a cure". What the hell are you really doing? Such nonsense all of it... http://theplasticproject.net/


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