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Editorial: A good start toward banning plastic bags

Long Island's East End towns are moving closer

Long Island's East End towns are moving closer to a regional ban on plastic checkout bags, with two towns trying to prohibit them in stores starting on Earth Day 2015 and three more weighing the idea. Credit: Agaton Strom

Plastic bags are a scourge on the environment. So it's good that a bunch of towns and villages in Suffolk County, mostly on the East End, are considering banning them. We must reduce their use. But this issue should be handled regionally, by Suffolk and Nassau. The East End does not have a monopoly on the problem, and shouldn't shoulder alone the burden of solving it.

Less than 1 percent of the more than 100 billion plastic bags used annually by Americans are recycled. The vast majority end up in landfills or as litter, and pose hazards for fish and birds as they decompose, a process that takes centuries. Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is pushing a ban on retail checkout plastic bags in the five East End towns, but some officials worry about impacts on local businesses if neighboring towns don't adopt the ban. Southampton and East Hampton villages already prohibit bags. Five other East End villages, plus Patchogue, are looking at bans. Nationally, Los Angeles and Chicago bagged bags this year, other municipalities did so earlier, and still others charge for bags to wean shoppers off them.

Bravo to Throne-Holst and company for starting to talk about plastic-bag bans. Now it's time Suffolk and Nassau joined the conversation.