Since July, the Austin City Council has been debating how to implement a ban on single-use plastic bags. In the ban proposed by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, retailers would not be allowed to offer plastic bags at check out counters anymore.
Interestingly, the city of Brownsville already implemented such a ban at the beginning of this year along with… wait for it… San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR. Leffingwell must be embarrassed that our green city is so behind! Some whole countries in Europe have also instated bans.
According to the Solid Waste Services Department, plastic bags cost our city $850,000 a year to put in landfills and clean up as litter. In addition to polluting the environment, plastic bags clog drains, take up landfill space (where they take only 500 to 1000 years to disintegrate!), and harm wildlife. Think of the baby squirrels! And don’t forget about that giant blob of plastic and debris floating in the Pacific.
A poll released last week shows that 72% of of Austinites want an alternative to an outright ban. The same poll revealed that the majority know that they can recycle plastic bags at many retailers like HEB and Target, and that 46% already use reusable bags as their primary way to take groceries home.
As much as I agree with what the ban stands for, I don’t want the government telling me what to do! Implementing a nominal five cent or so fee for bags, however, would probably decrease the use of plastic bags almost as much as a ban would. When Ireland introduced its tax in 2002, the use of plastic bags dropped 90%.
For those looking to use more reusable bags, I recommend cloth bags over the cheap plastic ones sold everywhere. You can easily find ones made right hurr in America, not China, and they are much more durable. Also, they are WASHABLE. One study showed that reusable bags can harbor bacteria. Cute graphics are also a plus- it makes me more likely to use them.
Reuseit.com has tons of reusable bags for sale and is a great resource for anyone looking to reduce waste in all areas of the home. Check ’em out!
What’s your take on the proposed ban? Do you use reusable bags regularly?
photo from reuseit.com