The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Another Texas Town Bans Plastic Bags
By Bill Hickman
Surfrider chapters typically focus their plastic reduction efforts in coastal cities and towns since that's where our members are who see the impacts of plastic pollution firsthand and want to take action. You have to start somewhere and as a grassroots organization, that somewhere is our backyard.
But it's important to remember that everywhere on land is part of a watershed that flows to a river, creek or stream that then outlets in a lake, bay or ocean. So it's great to see inland cities making efforts to reduce single-use plastic bags and the latest good news comes from the west Texas city of Kermit where a reusable bag ordinance has been enacted.
In addition to marine impacts, plastic bags can be a big nuisance for farmers. I recently spoke with some Surfrider activists in Texas who mentioned that cotton farmers can take a financial hit from plastic bag litter because it can taint their crop as it is processed by mills:
Bags find their way into farmers’ fields and then into modules of cotton. The bags go through the gin and textile mills and have even ended up in finished apparel. One thing that I would really like to emphasize this fall is to watch for those Wal-Mart bags in your fields. It’s almost humorous, but it’s dead serious. One mill in the east quit buying cotton in Georgia and the Carolinas because of it.
Kermit recently passed a type of reusable bag ordinance that eliminates plastic checkout bags at most retailers and puts a small fee on paper bags as an incentive for people to remember their reusable bag or go without a bag for small purchases. The City of Kermit website does a great job to explain the ordinance and why it's needed:
Q: What kind of plastic bag is banned?
Plastic carryout bags include any bag made of plastic (from any source), which is provided to the customer at the point of sale.
Q: What kind of plastic bag is NOT banned?
Produce bags and product bags are bags without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats or other food items to the point of sale or to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items.
Q: Why has the City of Kermit banned single-use plastic carryout bags?
The intent of the single-use carryout bag ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper carry out bags and promote a major shift towards the use of reusable bags.
Q: How are single-use plastic carryout bags harmful to the environment?
They are consumed in extremely high volumes. They are produced from non-renewable resources. They are designed to be disposable (rather than reusable). They are difficult to recycle—less than 5 percent of the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in Texas are actually recycled. They are a significant and visible component of litter and do not biodegrade. They remain in the environment as marine, storm drain and beach pollution for decades. A significant hazard to ranch animals and birds, which often mistake plastic bags as food.
Q: Is there any exception to this ban?
The ordinance does NOT prohibit the distribution of plastic product bags such as those distributed within a grocery store for bagging produce or meat.
Q: What stores are required to charge 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
All grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, liquor stores, drug stores and pharmacies are prohibited from providing free distribution of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags. If these stores decide to make paper carryout bags available for their customers, they are required to sell recycled paper carryout bags made from 100 percent total recycled content with 40 percent post-consumer recycled content for not less than 10 cents per bag.
Q: Why is there a $0.10 fee on recycled paper carryout bags?
The fee of $0.10 on recycled paper carryout bags encourages the use of reusable bags. This cost pass-through reimburses retailers for the costs of providing recycled paper carry out bags to their customers. All of the revenue from the cost pass-through remains with the store.
Q: How do I avoid paying 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
It’s easy—remember to bring your own reusable bags to the store. Some stores will even offer you a credit or gift for bringing your own bag.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."