By Kathryn G. Menu
At last month’s Village of Sag Harbor Board of Trustees meeting, resident Kate Plumb wondered if the village would consider adopting a ban against plastic bags, similar to legislation enacted in Southampton Village and now being considered by Southampton Town.
The response she got from Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride made clear that kind of legislation was not at the top of the village board’s priorities.
However, this week, several members of the board supported the concept, although each said they would not move forward without assurances that the ban would not negatively affect business owners in Sag Harbor.
“Is it something that is on the front burner? No,” said Gilbride on Tuesday. “If other communities around us start doing it and we could have a positive impact by joining, then I would say it could happen. If there are enough board members who would like to do this, I am open to hearing what they have to say.”
Mayor Gilbride noted that he shops at Schiavoni’s Market on Main Street in Sag Harbor every day, and has seen a number of patrons already using their own canvas sacks to carry their groceries, as well as shoppers who request paper, rather than plastic, bags.
“I don’t use plastic bags, but again, if this is something the board and the community supports, I would consider jumping on board,” said Gilbride.
On Wednesday, deputy mayor Tim Culver said he would support a ban on plastic bags in the village, but only if he could be assured it was “workable for the merchants,” a sentiment echoed by trustee Ed Gregory.
“I think it is a good idea because of all the plastic bags I see blowing around, littering the village,” said Gregory. “But I would like to talk to the merchants before we considered anything. I would be in favor of it if we have board support, but only if I could be assured it would not be a detriment to local businesses.”
Trustee Robby Stein said he is the kind of person who for a long time now has brought his own, reusable bags, to collect his groceries, and while he supports the concept of a plastic bag free village, Stein said he wishes merchants would take matters into their hands instead of the village legislating that they can no longer carry plastic bags for their patrons.
“I wish the merchants would just do it, because personally, I don’t like the idea of forcing someone to do something like this, and it would be yet another thing we would have to enforce,” he said.
However, added Stein, he does believe that the use plastic bags are detrimental to the environment.
“In truth, you can recycle all you want, but stopping the use of plastic bags would do a million times more for the environment than recycling,” said Stein, who advocated the use of paper or canvas bags instead.
“I would like to see them banned in the village, but I think it has to come from the Chamber of Commerce and the merchants,” he said.