Rye shoppers won’t be carrying out their purchases in plastic bags for much longer. The City Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to ban them.
In doing so, Rye will become one of a small but growing number of communities – and the first in Westchester – to outlaw plastic bags, only a fraction of which are recycled and are widely blamed for littering land, clogging waterways and harming marine life.
Sara Goddard, chair of the Rye Sustainability Committee, says the issue that spurred the ban is bigger than the continual debate of plastic versus paper.
“This piece of legislation is part of a broader education and awareness campaign that our committee has been working on for over a year to encourage people to use reusable bags,” she says. “We will continue to increase awareness and help ease the transition from single-use disposables to encourage a lifestyle that includes the use of durable, reusable products.”
Light plastic bags, like the kind we get at supermarkets, are the target of the law. More substantial plastic shopping bags and dry cleaning covers will still be allowed.
The Rye law, under which retailers who continue to use plastic will be fined $150, is modeled on bans in Westport, Southampton and East Hampton.
The ban takes effect in six months and is among the more radical approaches to the problem. In Washington, D.C., for example, shoppers are charged 5 cents for every plastic bag they get from retailers.
Photo courtesy of Trosmisiek.