Care2 Success! Austin Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

During the past several months, over 3,000 Care2 activists have signed our petition asking the city of Austin to ban single-use plastic bags.

And it worked!

On March 6, the city of Austin, Texas, joined several other cities around the world in banning single-use plastic bags.

From CBS7:

Austin City Council passed one of the broadest bag bans in the country, now, the city must determine the penalties for refusing to comply with the law.

According to the Austin American-Statesman reports that the law will go into affect March 2013.

The law will prohibit retailers from offering single use paper, and plastic bags at retail checkout counters.

Although more than two dozen U.S. cities have bag laws, Austin is the first large city in Texas to pass the bag ban.

There are many reasons to ban plastic bags, including the fact that they are made from petroleum and take a very long time to decompose, if indeed they ever do. Single-use plastic bags are everywhere, with between 500 billion and a trillion produced worldwide each year. Most are used to carry groceries from grocery stores to cars and homes. Although many are reused, countless more end up as litter, where they choke or starve sea life and spread nonnative species around the world.

Santa Monica, California, started implementing its plastic bag ban last September, while in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, the same ban went into effect on July 1, 2011. The California Grocers Association said they favored a statewide ban to make the rule easier to implement, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Other cities that have banned plastic bags include Seattle, San Francisco, Mexico City, Dhaka in Bangladesh  and Oyster Bay in Australia, as well as Hawaii’s Big Island and Kauai and Maui.

The trend is spreading around the world! And thank you to all the Care2 activists who signed our petition!

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Photo Credit: GavinBoycePhotography


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago


Christina B.
Christina B6 years ago

I wish we could ban plastic bags in Greece, too. But I hardly think we'll ever do. It's a matter of personal commitment, if anything: no matter how much I try to make my colleagues understand what a huge waste it is to use a plastic bag to carry TWO bottles of water (plastic, as well), they honestly don't seem to care.

jane d.
Sarah M6 years ago


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago


Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege6 years ago

Good news! Using plastic bags for garbage bags or recycling them is not such a good idea. Indeed, the number of plastic bags we bring back from the shops is too large. There are too many plastic bags we don't use. And I know what I'm talking about: I stopped using plastic bags years ago and this makes life ... much easier.

Craig N.
Craig N6 years ago

I am from Austin, Texas, and I attended the meetings in Austin from which the single-use bag ordinance evolved. It is not a "bag ban" - it only makes it illegal for an Austin retailer to distribute plastic or paper bags designed for single use. Some exceptions are bags for produce and meat, bags for newspapers, dry cleaning bags, bags for garbage disposal, and bags for disposing of pet waste (both of which should be biodegradable, anyway). Any bag that enters the trash stream should be biodegradable - none of the single-use plastic bags handed out by retailers currently are. If you ever throw one in the trash, then don't fool yourself - you are not recycling. No company in America is currently recycling single-use plastic bags because they are too cheap to make from scratch, they are bulky to move, and they are difficult to clean. In Austin, multiple-use plastic and paper bags will be available from retailers for a fee for those who forget their reusable bags. I have been doing using reusable bags for years - there is really nothing to it, and I only have to wash my cloth bags at most once a month. 230 million plastic bags a year (the number now being handed out in Austin) is TO MANY!

Donna G.
Donna G6 years ago

I use those reusable bags that are made of recycled plastic. They look like cloth bags; but, really are just recycled plastic. I reuse all my plastic bags and sometimes have to beg for them. If I happen to see somebody starting to put a plastic bag in the trash, I will ask if I can have it. I really don't want to spend $8 on plastic bags to pick up dog waste, when I can get them from the grocery store. I certainly hope that our city doesn't put a ban on plastic bags.

Cynthia E.
Cynthia E.6 years ago

I have worked in the grocery industry for many years. I am also very conscientious of cross-contamination of raw meats onto produce or anything else. I always bag raw meats separately for the food-safety factor.Many of the cannot be effectively contained in cloth,etc.

when my customer has broughtreusable bags, I ask their permission toput their raw meats in plastic first; 9 out of 10 gladly agree(the 10th often has the sloppiest pkg of meat!) We have recycling bins, and many people reuse the bags to line wastebaskets, or as litterbags in the car(or barf bags) My opinion:it's a simple matter of LITTERING, and COMMON SENSE! What about all the bags used as packing for the foods we select from the shelves, and the produce bags, that are often only strong enough to make it to the check-out!? I think a lot of it is a lobby by mfgrs of trash/garbage bags to buy their products instead of being resourceful with the packing that the stuff came home in!!! BTW I also offer to not put into bags a single-item purchase, or jug of milk, etc.

Diane Piecara
Diane Piecara6 years ago

Way to go Austin! You rule.

LARRY H.6 years ago

Banning the use of single use plastic bags is a good step in minimizing waste and overused land fills, but finding other creative uses for them may also help,such as using them for garbage bags, as well as recycling.