Westhampton Beach Village could soon be the latest East End municipality to adopt a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.
Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender will make his pitch to Westhampton Beach Village Board members at their work session later this month, urging them to adopt a bag ban similar to the one he and Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst championed in the town last month.
Westhampton Beach is the only village on the South Fork that has not outlawed the use of the thin, single-use shopping bags—Quogue, Southampton, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack and East Hampton villages have all adopted legislation forbidding stores from using them. East Hampton Town also has a ban of its own, which goes into effect later this year. Riverhead Town has thus far declined to implement a ban.
Mr. Bender called out the Westhampton Beach Village Board two weeks ago during a press conference announcing the town’s ban.
“I put this challenge out to the Village of Westhampton Beach: Please, take a look at our bag ban, adopt our legislation and don’t be the holdout,” Mr. Bender said during the event.
Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore said she was in touch with Mr. Bender shortly after his public challenge and invited him and members of Southampton Town’s Sustainability Committee to provide her board with more details about the program during their work session on Wednesday, May 20.
Ms. Moore said she and trustees simply did not have an opportunity to explore the program prior to this because they were preoccupied with other, more pressing issues in the village. She said they are open to the idea, but would still like to know some specifics.
“It’s just the timing—we’ve been dealing with other issues, and now we have the time to educate ourselves on it,” Ms. Moore said. “Nobody [from the village] actually has reached out to us, but perhaps when it goes on the agenda people will make their feelings known about how they feel about it.”
Tracy Glover, the secretary of the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce, said the group has not yet formally discussed the idea of a bag ban, though there has been some chatter among local business owners. The chamber includes businesses in Westhampton, Quogue and Westhampton Beach, so some members are already required to comply with the ban.
The two primary users of the single-use plastic bags in Westhampton Beach Village are the Rite Aid on Main Street and the Waldbaum’s on Sunset Avenue, the latter of which does not currently offer paper bags.
The manager of the Waldbaum’s deferred all comment to their corporate headquarters in New Jersey. Representatives of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company did not return calls this week seeking comment.
A worker answering the phone at the Rite Aid also declined to comment, again referring a reporter to their corporate headquarters. Officials there also did not return a call seeking comment.
While a ban on plastic bags that are less than 2.25 millimeters, which is the town’s standard, could increase costs on local businesses, some shop owners said this week that they are viewing the change as a new opportunity.
Justin DeMarco, owner of Justin’s Chop Shop on Mill Road, said the switch to paper could provide a new branding tool for his butcher shop, similar to the signature bags seen totted by patrons of shops like Citarella and Whole Foods Market.
“Plastic bags aren’t the best things in the world, so I don’t have a real problem with a ban,” Mr. DeMarco said. “It is what it is, there could be worse things.”
Diana Mathews, owner of Diana’s Unique Boutique on Main Street, said she supports the village implementing a bag ban. She said she already uses paper bags exclusively in her retail clothing store and thinks that eliminating plastic bags would be beneficial.
“To do away with plastic would be a good thing for the environment,” Ms. Mathews said.