MAMARONECK, N.Y. – The ban on plastic bags is set to go into effect March 31 in Mamaroneck, and residents committed to promoting the change from single-use bags have worked hard to garner support in the community.
The new law, which was passed in August 2012 by the Board of Trustees, bans plastic bags from being handed out by retailers at checkout. Stores will be required to provide recyclable paper bags or reusable bags, and violators could face a fine up to $150.
Monica Barach, a member of the Village of Mamaroneck’s Committee for the Environment, said there has been widespread local backing for this initiative.
“Absolutely, people have been on board,” Barach said. “We’re on the water, and we know plastic bags clog the drains and are terrible for the wildlife. Many people who live here are very environmentally minded and particularly sensitive. They don’t want their nature destroyed.”
The ban applies to shopping bags and excludes newspaper bags, small plastic bags that are given out at restaurants, and dry cleaning garment bags. But Barach said that even places that are not included under the law, such as two Mamaroneck toy stores, have voluntarily decided to enforce the ban as well.
Only one large local retailer, the A&P, was opposed to it. “They said it was going to hurt their bottom line because paper is much more expensive than plastic,” Barach said. “But the reason for the ban is not to hurt the retailer but to get consumers to change their behavior and bring their own bag.
Apart from that, the public and small businesses have expressed support for the movement, she said. The local CVS also started using paper bags even before the ban was put into effect.
“We’re not endorsing the paper bag either; we think it’s a very bad alternative,” Barach said. As part of the effort, the committee found a high school student and a local artist to design a reusable bag. About 1,000 bags will be given out to consumers and retailers.
“We’ve also created some tri-folds to get the word out and remind users to bring their reusable bag, and distributing those to about 100 stores in the area,” she said. “People need to be more mindful of the environment, and every little bit helps.”
On Sunday, March 10, the Mamaroneck Public Library will host a free screening of "Bag It," an award-winning documentary that investigates plastic's effect on waterways, oceans and the human bodies.
Mamaroneck will be the second town in Westchester, after Rye, to enforce the ban. Larchmont is also working on putting a similar law into effect.