The Patchogue Village Board has set a May 11 public hearing on a proposed ban of single-use plastic bags, following in the footsteps of Southampton and East Hampton towns, which have passed similar bans.

A number of environmentalists have lined up in support of the ban, saying the bags are a threat to marine life.

Lawrence Swanson, associate dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, said all of Long Island should be plastic bag free.

"It's a product that doesn't belong in a marine environment," he said in an interview Tuesday. "It can do considerable damage to marine life and boating."

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said, "The plastic bag is quickly becoming a thing of the past."

She said Patchogue should join other communities that have banned the bags.

"This is one of the few campaigns where the answer is in our hands. We can choose to keep polluting or we can simply bring reusable bags to the store," she said.

U.S. retailers spend $4 billion annually on disposable bags and plastic pollution impacts hundreds of species of marine life, village officials said.

"Species die because they eat the bags or become entangled. The bags litter, clog storm drains, they don't biodegrade and they are unnecessary," Esposito said.

She estimated Americans nationwide use an average 330 disposable plastic bags each year.

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Bravo Supermarket owner Jose Bonilla recently informed Patchogue officials through a friend that a villagewide ban would sway shoppers to buy groceries from his competitors in nearby hamlets where the bags are not banned.

Esposito said, "Saving the Earth isn't always convenient, but it is always worth doing."

Esposito said roughly 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away nationwide each year, and that a plastic bag ban will encourage shoppers to bring their own recyclable bags.