Reporter editorial: Green discussions

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | At the The Town Board work session Tuesday Supervisor Jim Dougherty voiced two green ideas that might be a good fit for Shelter Island.From left, Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Mr. Dougherty and Councilman Ed Brown.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | At the The Town Board work session Tuesday Supervisor Jim Dougherty voiced two green ideas that might be a good fit for Shelter Island.From left, Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Mr. Dougherty and Councilman Ed Brown.

In a wide ranging discussion at Tuesday’s Town Board work session, topics as varied as ZBA ordered setbacks and World Falun Dafa Day were aired.

But two items brought up by Supervisor Jim Dougherty, touched on briefly but with a promise for more depth later, could be two building blocks to ensure the Island is a green and safe fortress for future generations.

Mr. Dougherty mentioned at a recent meeting of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association (EESMA), which he chairs,  there was a discussion of prescription drug abuse, which is outpacing illegal drug use. But the abuse of prescription controlled substances doesn’t just harm the user but can affect everyone, as Mr. Dougherty pointed out, when the powerful medicines are flushed away and make their way into the water we drink and in the water around us.

A nonprofit group has set up secure boxes in municipalities where unused and/or unwanted controlled substances can be deposited to be safely destroyed. The units run about $1,460 and are best placed outside pharmacies, senior centers and town halls. Mr. Dougherty mentioned that a discussion should be started on whether the Island wants to pursue this and suggested the nonprofit group be brought in for a presentation.

The supervisor also mentioned that at the EESMA meeting a regional effort to ban plastic bags provided by grocery stores and other retail outlets is worthy of discussion at future board meetings. We agree.

Southampton Village banned single-use grocery-sized shopping bags in 2011 and was commended recently by the state Department of Conservation for “environmental excellence.” According to the DEC, the ordinance achieved a 98 percent compliance rate and eliminated about 110,000 plastic bags in a year.

More than 150 communities across the country have banned the bags. San Jose, California tracked results of its ban and found that after implementation there were close to 90 percent fewer bags clogging storm drains, six out of 10 creeks were bag free and there was 60 percent less litter on the streets.

Surrounded by water, we take pride in being watchful stewards of our great resources. Last fall   when a giant leatherback turtle washed up dead on our shore, we learned a bit about these magnificent creatures. Although this one had been struck, probably by a passing boat and killed, one third of leatherbacks, which feed on jellyfish, have plastic bags in their stomachs and intestines.

Both ideas the supervisor has brought back from a regional meeting are welcome and worthy. We look forward to the discussions that might result in a greener and safer Island.