New York Joins Small Towns in Banning Bags

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:00

    The city trails far behind many towns in the northeast that have already put a stop to the use of plastic bags

    1990: Before it's cool, Nantucket quietly becomes one of the first places in the world to require retailers to use biodegradable packaging.

    2008: Westport, CT, which prides itself on being one of the first municipal bodies to pass a resolution opposing the Vietnam War in the sixties, becomes the second East Coast community to ban thin-film plastic checkout bags. Exceptions include bags for produce and meat, dry cleaning and thicker bags. These exceptions will become standard verbiage in subsequent bans.

    2011: Looking to Westport for inspiration, Rye, NY bans plastic checkout bags, starting a trend in Westchester.

    2011: Southampton Village, on the southern fork of Long Island, follows suit. The Town of Southampton later mulls a plastic bag ban but nixes the idea.

    2011: East Hampton Village, NY follows Southampton Village's lead, banning plastic checkout bags. At a debate at the village board meeting, a member of a business trade organization warned against dehumanizing an industry that employs hundreds of workers at nine plastic bag companies on Long Island.

    2012: A day after banning Styrofoam food containers, Brookline, MA bans plastic checkout bags. That paper bags ? which cost the retailer more ? are still okay causes heated debate. A resident told the Associated Press, "Cows aren't choking on paper bags."

    2012: The Village Board of Mamaroneck in Westchester unanimously approves a ban on plastic checkout bags. Paper checkout bags must contain no old-growth fiber, contain a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled content and display the words "reusable" and "recyclable."

    March 2013: Larchmont joins Westchester next-door-neighbors Rye and Mamaroneck in banning plastic checkout bags.

    April 2013: Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, bans plastic checkout bags. At the town meeting, the general manager of a grocery store argued that if plastic bags were outlawed, people would use more paper bags, which require cutting down trees and take more water to produce than plastic.

    June 2013: Tompkins County, NY (home of Cornell University) considers a plastic checkout bag ban. The law would go into effect in 2014 for big retailers and a year later for everyone else. Retailers would be required to charge between 10 and 25 cents for a customer-requested paper bag.

    July 2013: As Massachusetts debates a state-wide plastic bag ban, historic Great Barrington becomes the fourth town in the state to ban plastic checkout bags. Price Chopper in May said its Great Barrington branch will be the first of the 131 chain stores to do away with plastic bags.