Patrons of Washington businesses will soon no longer have the option of a plastic bag to carry their goods home.

The town of Washington has approved an ordinance banning the use of single-use plastic bags by all businesses.

The ban was approved by unanimous vote at a special town meeting held just days before Earth Day.

“It’s a gesture, a good gesture,” said First Selectman Mark Lyon. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

Diane Decker, co-president of the Washington Environmental Council, said the council is “thrilled” the ordinance passed.

“This is probably one of the biggest things we’ve done since saying ‘no’ to fracking,” Decker said. “This is huge.”

Businesses will be allowed to use up their inventory of bags, but bags will then be phased out, with all bags expected to be gone within a few months.

The Board of Selectmen worked with the town’s Sustainability Committee — an appointed subcommittee of the Planning Commission — the Washington Environmental Council and the Washington Business Association to craft the ordinance.

Council representatives visited the majority of businesses in town to explain the plan and offer alternative suggestions to those that asked.

Some business owners cited customers who use plastic bags for a variety of home uses, including lining small garbage cans.

Lisa Stein, manager at Washington Food Market and president of the Washington Business Alliance, said there are alternatives, including biodegradable bags available to purchase at the store.

“We’ve been supportive of (this ordinance) since the beginning,” Stein said.

The store offers customers the opportunity to bring their own bags or buy reusable bags at the store.

In addition, the store is exploring the implementation of a bag program — similar to a free library — that would welcome donations of reusable bags for customers to use.

“It’s worth giving it a shot,” Stein said.

A business found to be not in compliance with the ordinance will work with the first selectman and Sustainability Committee on a plan to meet the ordinance.

A business will be fined $150 for a second violation and $250 for each subsequent violation.

The ban is one of a number of ongoing efforts to create a sustainable community.