Will Houston be the next American city to ban the plastic bag? Maybe. In a city council budget meeting, council member Ed Gonzales proposed a plastic bag ban as a way to save the city thousands of dollars in litter clean up.
If Houston does choose to ban plastic bags, the city will have plenty of Texan company. Brownsville and South Padre Island have already banned plastic bags and Austin's double bag ban becomes operative next March.
Although getting rid of plastic bags makes financial sense for the city, getting approval from Houstonians may not be so easy. Local reporter Edel Howlin went to a Houston grocery store to gauge how residents would react to a bag ban and opinions were polarized on both sides. Victor Charles abhorred the ban and wanted no part in it:
Everything’s plastic today. Why don’t they outlaw the plastic items on a car while they’re at it? I mean, where do they stop, take my pen from me too?
However, Mitzie Scott was ecstatic about the idea:
I don’t know why we didn’t do it before. It’s just not necessary and every time I see one hanging in a tree I think how sad and there are other ways to do it.
In Brownsville, Texas, a ban on plastic bags has been going on for almost a year and a half now. Public Health Director for Brownsville, Arturo Rodriguez, says support has grown since residents saw how much plastic litter was reduced following the phase out of single use plastic bags.
At the moment, it’s still too early to say whether or not residents of Houston will unclench their fists from those plastic film handles. Gonzalez views this ban as a way to clear out the waste from Houston’s bayous and streets and he remains welcome to keeping plastic bags as long as bag litter is regulated. Houston's city council is currently in talks with manufacturers, consumers, and environmentalists about the potential impacts of a plastic bag ban.