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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: The Long Island Advance

A PEPie Bag for Patchogue

BY LINDA LEUZZI

Posted: January 21, 2016
Originally Published: January 21, 2016

PEP Committee.

The PEP committee has chosen areusable (sic.) bag for residents to use when the single-use plastic bag ban goes into effect. Pictured are committee members (left to right), front row: Emily Gatti and Janny Lao. Back row: David Kennedy, Joe Keyes, Jordan Christensen and Don Wachsmuth.

The reusable bag, chosen by the PEP (Protecting the Environment of Patchogue) committee, was decided on Tuesday.

It’s a navy hue, 13 by 12 by 8 inches, with the village logo imprinted in white along with “We bag to differ.” One bag per household will personally be delivered within village boundaries before the ban on single-use, carryout plastic bags from retail and eating establishments goes into effect on Labor Day, said Trustee Joe Keyes.

The village provided $5,000 for the cost of the bags.

“The things we considered were price, design material and the vendor,” said Keyes, adding that senior account clerk Emily Gatti from the village’s treasurer’s office researched the cloth bags.

Keyes initiated investigating a ban after getting the green light from the village board at a meeting to form the PEP committee in the fall of 2014. The committee included input from Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce members, St. Joseph’s College faculty and students and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, with several months of deliberation and an extensive public hearing.

It was approved by the village board last June.

The village law is being initiated with ongoing information, he said, including a letter that was handed out by Public Safety to each business in the village after the vote was taken, Keyes said.

“We also included a single-page, mini prepping guide that went out with the recent annual [Department of Public Works] mailing,” he added. Keyes said a separate flyer would be mailed to property owners.

Communication about the village edict and its purpose prompted South Ocean Middle School teacher Janny Lao to reach out. “Janny came to me,” said Village Clerk Patti Seal. “She was so excited.”

Lao, a seventh-grade social studies teacher, said she gave her classes a brief introduction about the ban. ‘I’m working with Patchogue Village and we’re looking for artists to get the word out about this. This is your chance to get your work seen,’ she told them. Lao made up a flyer. ‘They need our help in spreading the word about this ban,’ it said. ‘If you have any ideas for posters, slogans, inserts in reusable bags, etc., the village would love your participation. For further information or to submit your ideas, see Ms. Lao in Room 320.’

The idea, Lao said, was to engage the parents as well. So far, she’s received 16 imaginative entries.

“A poster will be created to incorporate them,” said Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy.

The chamber will handle bag distribution to the businesses.

There were concerns voiced during the public comment portion of the public hearing last year and before the vote from businesses including David’s Shoe Emporium. The Colony Shop had just received a shipment of 5,000 bags and was hoping the ban would take that into consideration.

Keyes said the ban was held off from initiation on Earth Day to Labor Day to try to accommodate stores with large plastic bag supplies.

“The businesses have been aware this is coming, so hopefully they’ve been preparing,” said Kennedy. “The village has given us a contact with the vendor who made those bags.” Kennedy said he would reach out to the vendor this week to get pricing and bring that figure before the chamber board. “I know the businesses will comply,” he said. “The village did the right thing providing enough lead time. We’d like to mimic what the village did and have a Patchogue bag.”

There were tweaks to the ban along the way; it did not apply to produce, prepared food, bulk food or meat from a produce, deli, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale. The ban also does not include single-use bags that hold prescriptions or medications from a pharmacy, live animals such as fish or insects, or to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food in a reusable or recycled plastic bag.

“Any bag they distribute will have to be other than single-use,” Keyes said. “It will have to be 2.25 millimeters thick; it’s a little more costly, but that can be used again. Or they can make available for purchase one of those reusable cloth bags.”

Patchogue Village isn’t the first on Long Island to initiate the ban. Southampton Village passed one ban in April 2011; East Hampton Village followed that July. Both Southampton and East Hampton towns passed the law in December 2014.

Southampton Town representative Dieter von Lehsten, co-chair of the Sustainable Southampton Green Advisory Committee, who came to testify with member Lynn Arthur during Patchogue’s public hearing, said the ban there wasn’t a problem as expected.

“We gave everyone notice so they could reduce their stocks,” he said. “We had to test run what was done in Southampton Village. Within a couple of weeks after the ban was passed, you saw people running around with their own bags.” Twenty-three million plastic bags were being eliminated annually in Southampton town he said, adding that plastic bags are the single largest consumer product globally.