Congratulations to the Nassau County Legislature for banning Styrofoam. Impressively, the vote to stop merchants from using polystyrene products in restaurant takeout and coffee cups, among other things, was unanimous — 19-0. It’s not often that the county’s lawmakers take such an undivided stand on strong environmental action.
That unexpected boldness is not diminished by acknowledging that Nassau was following in the wake of others. Neighbors Suffolk County and New York City, as well as Albany County and more than 100 municipalities around the country, also have banned Styrofoam. In fact, it would be reasonable to wonder why New York State lawmakers aren’t acting on Styrofoam as well — given that Maine has passed a ban, Maryland lawmakers have sent a similar bill to their state’s governor for his signature, and other measures to banish Styrofoam are moving through the state legislatures in Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii, among others.
Now that Nassau has embraced environmental religion on this issue, perhaps lawmakers can sustain their passion long enough to vote to place a fee on paper bags. That would pair well with the statewide ban on single-use plastic bags adopted in the state budget, in that the two steps together have produced the best results in getting customers to stop using disposable bags and switch to reusable ones.
GOP Legis. Laura Schaefer said the Styrofoam ban is a “wonderful thing to do for our environment.” There are lots of other things lawmakers can do, too. And the more they do, the better they — and Nassau’s environment — will feel.