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Nearly Three Months Later, Austin Still Adjusting to Plastic Bag Ban

Though Austin’s ban on plastic bagstook effect March 1, the conversation about how consumers are coping is still going strong.

Austinites have been sounding off on social media about the benefits and inconveniences of banning plastic bags. One particularly in-depth conflict has erupted on an Austin Reddit thread, asking “How has Austin’s bag ban affected you?”

Numerous Redditors shared their views on how the ban has impacted their lives. Here’s a look at some of the most common themes that emerged:

  • Shopping has become more efficient: The inconvenience of bags has prompted shoppers to begin planning their trips more in advance so that their purchases don’t get out of hand. “I now pre-emptively decline a bag and only purchase what I can comfortably carry in my hands,” Redditor nelsnelson writes. “This means that my meals are rarely made up of more than a literal handful of ingredients. It has made everything simpler.”
  • Plastic bags were convenient in the household: Many Austinites adapted to utilizing excess plastic bags in the household - those places where reusable bags just won't cut it. "“You obviously don't have to deal with poop,” argues Redditor austex_mike, “I need plastic bags for diapers.” User nuovo_donna is also struggling with life without free plastic bags: “I'm almost out of little liner bags for all of my wastebaskets, and I'll have to start buying plastic bags soon."
  • People are doing shopping outside city limits: People who live on the edges of Austin prefer not to deal with the inconvenience. Instead, suburb-dwellers find themselves making a large amount of purchases at stores beyond the city limits. Aforementioned user austex_mike concedes, “I'll be honest. Nothing beats the convenience of just using old grocery bags. I live in north Austin, so I just swing over to the Greenlawn HEB in Round Rock every now and then and do a big shopping trip.”
  • Some are calling for more measures: Those in favor of a full environmental makeover for the city of Austin think this is a step in the right direction. Redditor prophetjohn writes, “Pretty sure in the early stages, this is going to be a net negative. My hope is that it will promote a more reusable mindset that propagates beyond just plastic bags.”
  • Complaints to cashiers are off the charts: “Worst part is that they take it out on me,” former HEB employee and Reddit user Hyperdude reports. Current cashier Terramoura agrees: “In my opinion, if you are angry about the ban, you should complain to the city. I like the ban. Plastic is such a nuisance. I'm sorry it's inconvenient to you but change happens and if you can't adapt, then life will only be hard for you.”

At 269 comments as of this writing, the list goes much further. Leave a comment below and continue the conversation: how has Austin’s bag ban affected you?

Lila is an intern from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. She enjoys songwriting, politics, and low-grade comedians.
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