It has been a month since the city of Austin first began regulating the use of plastic bags. The Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance controls the types of bags that can be distributed at local establishments, such as grocery and convenient stores. The new ordinance encourages the use of reusable bags. As a result, residents of the Austin area must either carry their own reusable bags or pay a small fee for each bag they need.
According to Smart Green Tips, U.S citizens use over 100 billion plastic bags each year. The Clean Air Council found that less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year and that recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. When factoring in the monetary and environmental impacts of plastic bag waste, the impositions put in place by city officials are grossly outweighed by the positive potential for change.
With that in mind, San Antonio should adopt similar policies and become a bag-less city.
In 2011, CPS Energy made a commitment to add 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020, constructing the North America’s largest solar installation.
According to Reaching for the Sun, a brief by Environment Texas, an environmental advocacy group, San Antonio-based CPS Energy and Austin Energy make up 85 percent solar energy capacity for the state of Texas. As a city so consistently committed to alternative energy and going green, it seems only logical that San Antonio follows Austin’s lead, and reduce the application of single-use bags.
While its too soon to tell its ultimate impact, the single-use bag ordinance is a small step towards Austin’s Zero Waste Plan goal of diverting 95 percent of their trash from landfills by the year 2040.
Swapping out single-use bags for re-usable bags is just a small change of a daily routine, a simple contribution San Antonio residents could make that would have a long and lasting impact on the environment and the city’s budget.

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