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Apr 14, 2015 10:43 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton Stores, Shoppers Prepare For Plastic Bag Ban

Apr 14, 2015 2:14 PM

One week before a ban on plastic grocery bags will go into effect in Southampton Town, businesses and shoppers are preparing for the new reality.

At large grocers and retailers, cases of paper and reusable bags are stacked in storerooms, ready to replace skeins of thin plastic sleeves that will be contraband as of next Wednesday, April 22, when the ban adopted by Southampton Town takes effect—appropriately, on Earth Day. East Hampton Town has adopted a similar ban, which will go into effect five months after Earth Day, on September 22.

For the big companies, adjusting to the new rules has been a speed bump that is simply to be dealt with, and any added costs will be a faint blip in accounting ledgers. But for some smaller businesses, the cost and inconvenience of the change have been a serious headache.

“It’s a pain in the ass is what it is,” said Arthur Seekamp, owner of Brent’s General Store, a deli in Amagansett, which is looking ahead to the ban this fall. “It will slow our operation down. Reusable bags don’t apply to my business—we’re a grab-and-go kind of place. We probably go through a thousand bags a week. The plastic ones are 3 cents apiece, the paper is more. And the one thing I really need the plastic bags for is our big Styrofoam containers, for the larger dinners. They don’t fit in the paper bags.”

Though bunches of plastic bags still hang behind the checkout counters of Brent’s, Mr. Seekamp said he has already begrudgingly started the shift to paper bags for sales other than those large takeout meal orders.

At Kmart in Bridgehampton, plastic was still the order of the day, with shopping carts stacked full of the white bags streaming out the doors on Friday. But new paper bags, with cord handles and the Kmart logo emblazoned on them, were already stacked on shelves under checkout counters. A manager said she wasn’t authorized by the company’s corporate office to talk about the changeover.

The main target of the bag bans, supermarket operators, have likewise been tight-lipped about how the ban will impact their bottom lines.

A King Kullen spokesman declined to discuss the company’s approach to the bag ban, or what the company says the switch will cost in stocking more paper bags. The company, which has two stores in Southampton Town, publicly opposed the bans when they were proposed last fall.

The Waldbaum’s supermarkets in Southampton and East Hampton villages have been operating under the bans on plastic bags at those stores for more than three years. Shoppers must pay 5 cents for each paper bag they use, but get a 5-cent discount if they bring their own reusable bags. Reusable bags are available for purchase for 99 cents.

The company’s grocery store in Westhampton Beach Village will continue to be exempt from the ban because the village has not yet agreed to adopt its own ban on the bags, despite what town officials have said were pledges by village lawmakers to do so.

The only other large supermarket on the East End, Stop & Shop in Hampton Bays, has taken perhaps the most broadly based approach to the coming ban. Signs in the store have been announcing the options that customers will be offered after the ban goes into effect. Standard paper bags (which must be recyclable, according to the plastic bag ban legislation) will be available for free. A heavier plastic bag, thick enough to be considered reusable as many as 12 times and allowed by the ban legislation, will be available for purchase for 10 cents each, and larger, heavy-duty reusable bags will be for sale for 99 cents.

What had been intended to be an East End-wide ban has not materialized. Southampton and East Hampton towns joined their largest villages, which enacted bans on the bags in 2011 and 2012, in adopting the legislation in December. Quogue Village has adopted a ban and Sag Harbor Village was expected to do so on Tuesday night. Westhampton Beach Village has not adopted, or held a vote on, a ban, and Riverhead Town has not secured support for the ban either, on the back of Supervisor Sean Walter citing fears that it would spur lawsuits from the many “big-box” retailers that populate its Route 58 commercial properties.

While the stores in the bustling business districts of the two villages that have had bans in place for three years say there has been little or no impact on its commercial retailers or their customers, some patrons of stores about to be covered in the blanket ban say they are not happy with the idea.

“Don’t ban it,” exclaimed a shopper who asked to be identified only as Eileen, as she left the Bridgehampton King Kullen with a shopping cart carrying seven of the plastic bags that will be outlawed next week. “I reuse these bags over and over. I keep a little stash of them and I pull a couple out each day and use them for cat litter. I am so upset about this.”

Another woman leaving the nearby Kmart, who also declined to give her name, said she is irritated at having to buy paper bags at Waldbaum’s and hopes that the other grocers will not adopt a similar policy, though she said the rule has spurred her to carry her heavier-duty reusable bag when she goes grocery shopping. But, she added, she avoids going to Waldbaum’s on some occasions simply because of the bag policy.

“It really shouldn’t be such a problem really, but when you forget to bring your own bag it’s not right to have to buy paper bags,” she said. “I know they’re bad for the environment and they get caught in the trees, but it’s a hard thing to give up, you know?”

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Here's how you prepare:
1. Go to the store
2. Buy your goods
3. Buy a couple of cloth or otherwise recyclable bags
4. Use those bags.

Done. That wasn't that hard.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Apr 14, 15 2:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
All bags that have been in use are recyclable. If you're talking about reusable bags, be careful of spreading diseases with unpleasant symptoms.

"A 2011 study from scientists at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University found only 3% of shoppers with multi-use bags said they regularly washed them. The same study found bacteria in 99% of bags tested; half carried coliform bacteria while 8% carried E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination.

"I classify them as pretty ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 15, 15 2:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thanks Dad.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Apr 15, 15 4:30 PM
If you have hemp or some type of canvas bag there's this new fangled invention called a "wahsing machine".

Rumor has it that it's all the rage...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 21, 15 4:17 AM
The emergency room is filled with people getting sick from their reusable bags, NOT
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Apr 21, 15 5:54 AM
Problem here: buy reusable bags and keep forgetting to put them in your car. So now i need to keep 40 of these stupid things in case i need to go to Petco, Dollar Tree and Stop and Shop in the same day. Good job being a pain in the ass Southampton Town. Because life isn't busy enough as it is and now i have to remember yet another thing! Ugggg!!!
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Apr 15, 15 8:18 PM
2 members liked this comment
Plant hemp, stop killing trees, make paper bags.

Another problem solved.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 16, 15 7:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
FYI, raw hemp seed is one of the healthiest things on Earth you could possibly eat. It's also good for carbon neutral biomass fuel, and makes great transesterified diesel.

Hybrid diesels are coming...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 20, 15 3:10 PM
Yes, poppy seeds are good for you too. Oleic acid, dietary fiber, and B vitamins are some of their benefits.

However, they and hemp seed could possibly make you fail a drug screening. Chia seed is one example that won't, but they're a pain in the behind as you need to soak them. They are absolutely amazing when it comes to absorbing moisture.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 21, 15 12:24 AM
I have at least a dozen cloth bags in the trunk of my car. It's not that hard to remember to take them into the store with me. You just have to get into the habit of doing so.
By George G Ketner (2), Altoona on Apr 17, 15 12:42 AM
Go online. Buy plastic shopping bags bundle. Store them in car and use them for groceries. Re use them for garbage can liners or whatever. Recycle if need be.
Cost per bag about 3 cents.( Equivalent liner bags at the supermarket will cost 25 cents),

Other than the supermarket, very few people in the Villages use reusable bags and most take the paper bag.

Remember the problem is litter and that is a people problem not plastic bags problem. If you look at the all the food ...more
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Apr 17, 15 9:31 AM
Big deal Southampton Town, why don't you do us a real favor and take the unconstitutional license plate readers off the police cars??? Oh, you can't do that right, illegal search is what your all about! Make too much money!
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 20, 15 1:05 PM
Please indicate what specific portion of the Constitution is violated by scanning license plates. You can't really be serious that having a computer do what a person can also do, and has been doing, is in violation, can you?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 20, 15 5:23 PM
VOS- this is a privacy issue you should be allowed to go about your business in peace without being surveilled . I said nothing about having a computer. I believe this has something to do with the 4th amendment, correct me if I'm wrong.
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 20, 15 6:43 PM
But you said it was unconstitutional. So, please tell us what section of the Constitution is being violated? Or are you only equipped to cut and paste?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 21, 15 4:26 AM
Sounds like sour grapes . Got popped for an expired reg. perhaps?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 20, 15 2:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
that is not the case and I totally support our Town's finest, I am just puzzled and concerned why a technology developed for war overseas is being used against the people of our fine town.
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 20, 15 6:25 PM
BF like to talk a good game, but went it comes to real issues, empirical evidence, and facts the propaganda parrot comes home to roost instead.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 21, 15 12:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks Mr.Z!
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 21, 15 9:38 AM
to Mr. Z:


"Sounds like sour grapes . Got popped for an expired reg. perhaps?" - bigfresh
"BF like to talk a good game, but went it comes to real issues, empirical evidence, and facts the propaganda parrot comes home to roost instead." - Mr. Z

I would add that, typically, bigfresh attempts no principled argument (which certainly exists) in favor of the ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Apr 21, 15 10:20 AM
A little-noticed surveillance technology designed to track the movements of every passing driver is fast proliferating on America’s streets. Automatic license plate readers—mounted on police cars or on objects like road signs and bridges—use small high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute.

The information captured by the readers—including the license plate number and the date, time, and location of every scan—is being collected and sometimes ...more
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 20, 15 6:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Someone told me that if you wrap aluminum foil around your head, it will detract the mechanism and it will not capture anything. I could not find any additional info about this though.

Now you know what pisses me off? These Google cars going around photographing our homes. Talk about invasion of privacy.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Apr 21, 15 1:06 AM
2 members liked this comment
Does the right to privacy exist in the Constitution? No it does not.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 21, 15 6:21 AM
Under the 4th amendment an officer is not allowed to ask you where you are going. Now you have a machine on the back of the car or on a telephone pole telling them were everyone is going. It sounds like your ok with that. Yes you can win the argument that privacy is not in the Constitution but at what cost? We all lost! We once a peaceful quiet community here, whats wrong with freedom isn't that what this country is suppose to be about! Im not trying to covert you, a an overly liberal hamptonite ...more
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Apr 21, 15 8:57 AM