Plastic bag ban could be positive for Austin – online

Starting March 1, 2013 a city wide ban of single-use paper and single-use plastic bags will go into effect in Austin. This is the first ordinance in a large city to ban single use bags in an attempt to reduce waste, according to Austin YNN.

The Austin City Council unanimously voted last March to pass this ordinance, according to This means that starting on March 1st retailers, including large stores like Wal-mart and HEB, will no longer be able to give customers single-use plastic or paper bags. Customers will now be responsible for bringing their own bag to stores.

Supporters of the ban hope that eliminating single-use bags will help reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and in the ocean. The concern about plastic in the oceans has grown significantly over the last few years, and is especially worrisome since plastic does not decompose like organic materials like paper, wood and metals.

This is problematic because scientist have found that plastic waste has started to work its way back up the food chain and into the fish and other animals that we consume, according to Austin Culture Map.

However not all Austinites are in complete support of the ban. Ronnie Volkening with the Texas Retailers Association essentially labeling the ban a misguided effort. Instead of the bag ban, Volkening contends Austin could have become a real leader in the recycling debate, arguing that money needs to be spent on teaching people how to responsibly reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Another concern is that eliminating single-use bags will jeopardize the jobs of people who produce things from recycled plastics, according to Austin YNN.

Some people, in anticipation of the ban or just being environmentally conscious, have already switched over to using reusable bags, but for those us who have yet to train ourselves to use them here a few tips that may help ease the transition a little:

1. Buy bags in a variety of sizes so they will accommodate a wide array of possible purchases.

2. To store bags conveniently, fold them up and store them all in one reusable bag so they are all in one place.

3. If you’re prone to forgetting hang your bags on the handle of the front door so you see them before you leave.

4. You can also keep bags in your car, just be sure to put them back after you use them.

5. Many companies make reusable bags that fold up small enough to fit in your purse or backpack. These are useful for unexpected purchases.

6. Also be sure to wash your bags every so often to keep them from getting gross, especially the ones you use for groceries since meat and produce can harbor all sorts of bacteria.

This change is probably going to be frustrating and feel very inconvenient at first, but in time, as our old habits are replaced with new ones, bringing reusable bags to the store will become just another part of the routine of life.