The Green Movement has changed the way Texas State students view waste and recycling. While the campus has made efforts to control items like Coke bottles and old papers, it has not provided a way to recycle plastic bags. Plastic bags are a major issue in society. They are used every day by thousands of students. Anytime San Marcos residents purchase an item, it is bagged in plastic unless they use reusable bags. Plastic bags are an environmental problem, a cost issue and a convenience mess.
Plastic bags are used in vast quantities on a daily basis. I have observed this firsthand while working at H-E-B as a cashier. The bags come in sectioned-off bundles that are reloaded onto the racks throughout the day. H-E-B tries to promote its reusable sacks by posting signs that say, “Don’t forget your Green Bags.” Managers urge their cashiers to ask the customer if plastic is okay. I have noticed many customers are ashamed they forgot their bags or simply do not have them. On the other hand, there are also customers who joke about killing trees. While plastic bags can be recycled, not all of them are. According to a Jan. 25 University Star article, only 25 percent of recycled bags are actually be reused. The bags that are not recycled or reused endanger our environment by sitting by the side of the highway, in landfills and in wildlife areas. Plastic bags cause problems, which is why San Marcos should take more action than considering a rewards program for reusable bags or a tax on the use of bags. Even though the process is lengthy and a hassle, a plastic bag ban should be one of city council’s concerns. San Marcos should follow Austin’s example and begin to eliminate plastic bags.
Aside from harming the environment, plastic bags are a huge cost issue to businesses. A ban would help save stores money and production costs. Instead of the stores paying money for single-use bags, they would be earning a small sum of money for the customer’s purchase of a reusable bag. While this does place a small fee on buyers it reduces waste and overall cost to the stores. Eric Oliver, an H-E-B manager, said one plastic bag costs $0.01. Reusable bags start at $1 for simple bags and are up to $3 for decorative bags. After an appropriate amount of bags are purchased there is no reason to spend more money, unlike stores that are continually forking out money for each plastic bag used. A ban on plastic bags would change shopping experiences as well as businesses.
Reusable bags would be enforced more often if they were not such a convenience issue. Plastic bags are easy to get because the stores provide them. There are no reusable bags to remember. Most customers I have come into contact with are not bothered by the cost of reusable bags. Remembering them is the main issue. We are ruining our environment and causing unnecessary costs because of convenience. Enforcing a ban on plastic bags would require residents to either remember their reusable bags or purchase reusable bags. Stores like Whole Foods have enforced this idea, but with paper bags. If a ban were placed on one-use bags, then customers would easily remember.
Even though City Council’s idea of possibly placing a rewards program for bringing reusable bags is a good idea, it does not completely cure the issues surrounding the use of plastic bags. A ban would reduce waste and cost issues. I believe a fully enforced ban, like the ban in Austin, is an excellent idea and should be considered by San Marcos businesses.