Banning plastic bags in Dallas: Good idea or bad idea?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-plastic-bag-waste-image20083297The city council is gearing up for a lively debate Monday morning over a proposal to ban plastic bags. And, not just plastic bags but most one-time use bags.

Councilmember Dwaine Caraway put forth the proposal back in April in an effort to clean up the city since the bags often end up stuck in trees and creeks and strewn about our lakes.

It sounds well-intentioned but would be no easy feat.

Last year, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a similar ordinance, and it just took effect in March. It almost didn’t make it. The Shopping Bag Freedom Act tried but failed to overturn the ordinance in the legislature.

The New York Times had a piece on this topic last month, noting that businesses usually fight hard against these ordinances. It took Seattle several years to recover from backlash and finally ban the bag in 2012 (with a few exceptions). Some cities are less strict and just impose a small fee to use disposable bags at the store. Places like New York City simply require certain large retailers to recycle all plastic bags.

I try to be kind to the environment and bring my canvas totes when I shop, but there are plenty of times that I rush out the door and forget them.

Despite more environmental awareness, the ban is still pretty unpopular at the national and state level. It would be a while before the Dallas City Council put the proposal to a vote but, if approved, we’d be a part of a handful of American cities taking action on the issue.

Tell us what you think. Is banning the bag a necessary step toward a cleaner environment? Or would it be a government overreach? Do we need an ordinance to force us to change our habits?


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