Are you remembering your reusable bags yet?
It’s been almost three months since Austin’s reusable bag ordinance went into effect, and like just about everyone else in the city, I’ve had my ups and downs getting used to it.
In today’s Metro section, Sarah Coppola reports that the city has received 19 complaints from March 1 to May 15 about retailers not complying with the new rules, which prevents stores from giving out single-use plastic and paper bags. About 60 retailers, including Terra Toys and Academy Sports, have received short-term variances to either comply with the ban in alternate manners or to use the rest of the single-use bags they have in stock, but almost all of the rest of the retailers in the city limits have found a way to sell reusable bags, encourage customers to bring their own or, in some cases, give away thicker, reusable plastic and paper bags.
And for all the informal complaining from customers who think the ban is an infringement on their right to free flimsy bags, only 44 have officially called the city to register their dissent.
Every time I go to the supermarket or store, I’m impressed with how many people walk into the store with reusable bags in hand, and it’s nice to get 5 cents per bag knocked off the bill at retailers like Target and Sprouts, which give discounts for people who BYO(bags). It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I saw a customer at H-E-B using the "emergency option" to get her groceries packed in the single-use bags for $1.
I have found myself carrying out an armful of goods from places like Auto Zone, which as a retailer must comply to the city’s rules but isn’t a shopping destination where I would typically remember to use reusable bags. On more than one occasion, I’ve underestimated how many bags I’ll need and end up having to get one of the thick plastic reusable bags, which I’ve discovered aren’t quite as reusable as the city its touting. (The so-called 4 mil bags are supposed to be able to carry 16 pounds of goods 100 times, but mine are showing some serious wear after only three or four uses.)
And to stay ahead of the germs that may or may not be taking up residence in my canvas bags, I’m trying to remember to wash them in the laundry about once a month.
If you’re still unclear about which bags are OK and which bags aren’t, the city has launched BringItAustin.org to help citizens navigate the new rules.
How is the bag ban going in your household? Are you missing those flimsy bags or shopping elsewhere to get them? Have you noticed a longer wait time in the check-out line to accommodate the new bagging system?