Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bag Bans

On March 1, Austin became the first major Texas city to effectively ban plastic bags. What seemed like a huge controversy at the time the ordinance passed, and instigated a lawsuit between local retailers and the City of Austin, transitioned seemingly without a peep.

I can't remember when I started feeling responsible for the environment. My family always recycled when I was growing up, when it was available, but I don't remember really caring one way or another. It certainly wasn't until college that I began feeling a heavy burden about keeping things from ending up in a landfill. I remember setting up for college house parties and clearly marking a trash can for recycling beer bottles and cans, and one just for trash. Yep, I was "that girl." I knew no shame.

The kicker though was when I made my first trip to New York City a few years later. Sadly, what I will remember most about that visit was the trash piled as tall as a (very tall) man outside our hotel, and walking through windy Times Square and a plastic bag blowing into my face. I will always associate with that visit the nauseating feeling that came over me, when on the drive home my world was torn apart by the reality that was Fresh Kills Landfill (now Freshkills Park). I really, truly had no idea. I was so naive. 

I am quite proud to live in a city that has a Zero Waste by 2040 plan, not only in writing, but also in motion. Recycling can be a lot of work. It's too easy to just throw something in your trash can and not think about it once it's disappeared on the truck. Especially, because I looooove to get rid of things, I'd much rather it was a streamlined, simple process. I don't particularly enjoy collecting food scraps for composting, or saving up electronics to recycle at Best Buy, or remembering to take reusable bags with me to the store. There really isn't anything fun about it. It's work, extra work, which doesn't directly or immediately benefit me, but we're all responsible and there's no way around that.

Even if you don't live in a city with bag bans or advanced recycling programs, you can still participate in small ways, like buying reusable grocery bags. It might seem silly and pointless, but you are just one more person doing Mother Earth a favor. Trying to minimize your personal waste levels will make you reevaluate other parts of your life, as well. Just watch and see.

So pick yourself up a couple of these...


And one or two of these...



And let's all shoulder our responsibility and do our part.



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