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Some plastic bags banned in Southampton

Plastic bags on a checkout counter at a

Plastic bags on a checkout counter at a Stop & Shop. (April 4, 2008) Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler

Starting Sunday, shoppers won't see the familiar thin plastic bags in stores around Southampton Village.

The village board of trustees passed New York State's first plastic bag ban in April. It prohibits the type of plastic bag often used in groceries and drugstores, called the T-shirt bag, village administrator Stephen Funsch said.

Plastic bags of a heavier weight, as well as those used for produce, are exempt from the ban. Village officials support reusable bags, but stores may still offer paper bags.

The village held two public hearings and discussed the issue for a year before passing the law.

Plastic bag manufacturers at the hearings expressed concerns that retailers would not be able to find suitable bags before the law takes effect Sunday.

Most residents and environmental advocates approved of the ban, saying the bags created litter, clogged streams, posed a choking threat to wildlife that mistook bags for food and a suffocation threat to marine life.

Fines for violating the law can be as much as $1,000.

Since the law was enacted, other municipalities have considered banning the plastic bags, including East Hampton Village and Southampton Town. A similar ban is in place in Westport, Conn.

"We hope this signifies the beginning of the end of the plastic bag on Long Island," said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which presented the idea of a ban to the board last year.

Esposito said that in other areas where bans have been enacted, the adjustment period was short. "People just got used to it," she said.

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