Cathy Bureau attended the city of San Antonio's Citizen's Advisory Committee meeting today for Environmental Policy. The city is considering a city-wide plastic bag ban. This might sound a bit off the wall, maybe even kind of militant, but when you discover why you might find this to be a good idea.
10 REASONS TO ELIMINATE PLASTIC BAGS
1. Big box stores use single purpose bags. They are too thin for most trash can use, or too small.
2. They do not come from recycled plastic. Recycling plants produce gray bags (earth911.com).
3. Finding recycling opportunities is difficult. In San Antonio the city doesn't pick them up so you have to remember to take them to the big box store.
4. Stores are wasteful. I usually use canvas bags but when I only need one or two items I'll say no bag. Whoops! Too late, bagged. I say no bag, please re-use it. They throw it away. It makes me want to make an intercom announcement: CODE GREEEN! CODE GREEEEEEN!!!
5. They don't make good packing material. Better packing material is fresh made popcorn.
6. The end up in the world famous San Antonio River
7. They become wildlife death traps.
8. They get caught in sewer traps.
9. On windy days they are all over the streets.
10. They don't pack well so my groceries are a mess.
The city of San Antonio has a city-wide policy in place to reduce the use of plastic bags. When I heard this at the Citizen's Advisory Committee meeting today for Environmental Policy I had a knee jerk response - what business does the city have in dictating what kind of bag a retailer can use?
I listened and learned. What I came to realize is that the result of plastic bag use has increased the city's expenses in several departments including the San Antonio River Authority, Edwards Aquifer, the Public Works department, and the Health department.
Just for fun, I researched the ordinance I was given from the city of Brownsville and found several articles on the matter. It turns out that the city is having great results. Of course there is always a critic. This is what the NY Times had to say, then I share something from Brownsville, one year later.
1. “Walmart is committed to reducing its plastic bag waste, but we would rather see voluntary programs to reduce plastic bag use” instead of stricter policies like Brownsville’s, said Daniel Morales, a company spokesman in Texas.
San Antonio has had a voluntary policy in place for over a year and according to the committee, there has been little to no change in plastic bag demand. The stores are not making much effort. They sell the bags for $0.99 -$1.99 at the grocery stores when they could offer paper bags with handles for free. Those are reusable.
2. "The policy, which took effect in January, has eliminated more than 350,000 bags per day, according to Mayor Pat Ahumada, who said in an e-mail that it has 'transformed our city from littered and dirty to a much cleaner city."
That's alot of bags for Brownsville, Texas with a population of 175,023, the 16th largest Texas city. Compare that to San Antonio, the 2nd largest city with 1.33 M population which if you use the same calculation of bags per person as Brownsville that is 1.99 bags per person or 2.65M bags per day! (demographics courtesy of Wikipedia.
3. "While buying groceries at the A&V Lopez supermarket this week, Rosie Orozco also spent 79 cents on something to put them in: a reusable bag emblazoned “Keep Texas Green.” “I have a whole bunch of these in my truck,” she said, noting that she often forgets to take them in when she shops"
Wow! Really? So we should have 2,646,700 bags floating in our sewers, killing our wildlife, and littering my lawn so shoppers don't have to bother to remember to bring their reusable bag?
Most appreciate that the city is cleaner. Some think the city is looking to make a few extra bucks. Maybe if they san in city council sub-committees for hours like I did they would see the impact it is having and see the numbers on how much it is costing the city to clean up, as well as the number of dead animals. It is being initiated by the city's Health Department, along with a few other programs to fit the San Antnio 2020 misison to improve health and well-being for all our citizens, no matter how many legs.
WE'RE NOT THE ONLY ONES... IT'S COMING TO YOUR CITY TOO!!!
Two other Texas communities, Fort Stockton and South Padre Island, have also approved bans on plastic bags, which will take effect in September and January, respectively. Several large cities, including Laredo and El Paso, have previously considered bans, and even the small town of Poteet, south of San Antonio, plans to assess its bag-banning options.
[If the video is not displaying I apogoize. It is acting up on my side. It's a video of Brownsville one year later, found on youtube.]
Source: NY Times