SOUTHAMPTON - Southampton Town officials are considering banning plastic bags at local stores in an effort to clean up the town's streets. Environmental groups say if the ban is approved, Southampton could be the first township in New York to prohibit the use of plastic bags. Southampton Village has already passed a similar measure. "The purpose is to really improve the environment by moving people toward the use of reusable bags instead of one-use or single-use plastic bags," says Tip Brolin, of Sustainable Southampton.However, Pat Broadhagen, the spokeswoman for the Food Industry Alliance of New York, calls the proposed ban an "unnecessary step" that could raise prices at the stores. If the ban goes into effect, shoppers will only be able to use paper bags made of 40-percent recycled material, or reusable bags. The Southampton Town Board will meet Friday to consider the possibility of a public hearing on the proposed plastic bag ban.