Plastic Bags and Paper Bags were both banned by Austin City Council in the wee hours of Friday morning, the Austinist reports. The actual ban will take effect next March, which gives you a year to get into the habit of bringing your own bags to the store. The City will spend $2 million dollars to educate the public on the the ban and to remind them to B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bag) to the store.
Opponents of the ban brought up plastic bags' usefulness in being used for other purposes, such as picking up after dogs and lining trash cans, but city leaders said that the bags often end up as litter or as landfill trash. In addition, activists successfully persuaded the Council to ban paper bags, as they take a lot of energy to manufacture and transport.
The Council wound up passing one of the broadest bag laws in the United States, joining over 24 other U.S. cities in banning plastic bags, but going a step further by banning paper as well. Most cities with bag laws impose a fee on disposable paper bags. Austin is also a trailblazer in this arena in Texas, being the first city to enact a bag ban.
If you are an Austin Apartment dweller concerned about not being able to pick up after Fido when he takes his daily constitutional, fear not. Newspapers, bulk foods, and carry-out from restaurants are exempt from the ban. So just resolve to get your food from your local takeaway and you'll be fine. Or you can drop a few coins on the specialty disposable bags available at pet stores for just the purpose of cleaning up your doggy's waste. As for bringing your own reusable bags, I take mine back out to the car as soon as I'm done unloading the groceries, where they stay until they are needed for the next shopping trip. Once you get into the habit, it's really easy, and you discover that groceries are much easier to transport when you carry them on your shoulder, rather than by those thin plastic handles that cut into your hands. Happy B.Y.O.Bing!