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Rye Says Bye to Plastic Bags

Rye shoppers won’t be carrying out their purchases in plastic bags for much longer. The City Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to ban them.

In doing so, Rye will become one of a small but growing number of communities – and the first in Westchester – to outlaw plastic bags, only a fraction of which are recycled and are widely blamed for littering land, clogging waterways and harming marine life.

Sara Goddard, chair of the Rye Sustainability Committee, says the issue that spurred the ban is bigger than the continual debate of plastic versus paper.

“This piece of legislation is part of a broader education and awareness campaign that our committee has been working on for over a year to encourage people to use reusable bags,” she says. “We will continue to increase awareness and help ease the transition from single-use disposables to encourage a lifestyle that includes the use of durable, reusable products.”

Light plastic bags, like the kind we get at supermarkets, are the target of the law. More substantial plastic shopping bags and dry cleaning covers will still be allowed.

The Rye law, under which retailers who continue to use plastic will be fined $150, is modeled on bans in Westport, Southampton and East Hampton.

The ban takes effect in six months and is among the more radical approaches to the problem. In Washington, D.C., for example, shoppers are charged 5 cents for every plastic bag they get from retailers.

Photo courtesy of Trosmisiek.



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December 10, 2011 4:32 PM

Dear Heal the Harbor:

Rye City Manager Scott Pickup says that building code violations such as the ones French is accused of are very common. I guess that means it’s ok and French won’t have to pay for any violations or any additional taxes on his upgrades.

City of Rye Assessor Whitty says that the ten year STAR Exemption Mayor French is accused of illegally receiving are also very common in Rye and she doesn’t see the need for French to give back any of the $10,000 or so that he appears to have profited from by illegally claiming a STAR Exemption he wasn’t entitled to.

Really? Why do we need Ms. Whitty then. Let everyone police themselves.

I could use a ten year exemption that I am not entitled to. I’m going to apply for the STAR Exemption anyway and ten years from now I won’t have to pay it back. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.

To me it seems like the Rye taxpayers are being cheated out lots of money because of incompetence, malfeasance, misfeasance and perhaps illegal activity.

Pickup is in way over his head and French is damaged goods. Until these two go Rye will not begin to get any better.

December 10, 2011 3:48 PM

This is great news, everyone that took part in making this happen should be commended. It is disturbing that people are not responsible enough to cut down or eliminate items that are harmful to the environment and that is exactly why we need laws such as this one.

What is amazing, is that this law was enacted in just a few short months as Mayor Doug French has allowed raw sewage to enter the Long Island Sound from Hen Island for years. This same Mayor that has refused to enforce sewage codes in Rye was just exposed for renavating an entire house without permits and worse yet cheating on his STAR property tax reduction. We are currently calling for his resignation as a result of both issues.

December 9, 2011 5:12 PM

Well, I applaud the elimination of plastic bags ending up in landfills. Note that the Rye ban does not eliminate plastic bags for dry cleaning. Also, we reuse our supermarket bags for our garbage, including food and other wet waste. We recycle all cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal (except the limited glass which cannot be). We will continue to recycle and reuse until we have a better approach. What do people use for wet garbage if they don’t use plastic? Do they buy plastic bags for that purpose? That would seem to be wasteful.

Catherine Wachs
December 9, 2011 2:52 PM

Hooray for Rye. Mamaroneck should follow suit. Like plastic bottles these wind up polluting everywhere.

When I pick up my dry cleaning, I remove the clothes from the plastic bag and wire hanger (which is only used to transport from store to home) and leave them for the owner to re-use. Clothes wrinkle the minute you wear them, anyway. The clothes go into my closet on less damaging hangars, and everybody wins.

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