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Is San Antonio Ready For A Plastic Bag Ban?

Flickr user Kate Ter Haar

Plastic bags are as much a part of the retail and grocery store experience as the milk and bread they carry, but recently, cities across Texas have been taking a journey down the road less traveled.

Brownsville, Laguna Vista, South Padre Island and now Austin are part of a growing movement to ban plastic bags.

Local shoppers seem to agree with the sentiment.

"I wouldn't mind banning something as long as there's an alternate to it," said H-E-B shopper John Saldaña.

Tony Hudson, who was also shopping at H-E-B, said he believes they will eventually go away, and thinks it’s a good thing for future generations.

"Plastic bags take what, a thousand years to biodegrade? Yeah, we should use those recyclable bags everywhere we can," he said.

The Texas Retailers Association is suing Austin because of its ban, and it could use part of the Texas Health and Safety code against the city that says local governments can't restrict the sale or use of a container not authorized by state law.

San Antonio has been keenly watching the legal action heating up. The Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee would like to recommend to the city council that they implement a ban in the Alamo City.

"They would really love a ban or a fee," said Mary Hammer, director of the Office of Sustainability, but so far, the only recommendation it is making is educating people on reducing the amount of plastic bags they use.

Hammer said she believes residents could embrace such a ban.

"I think San Antonio would. It's about changing your attitude and your mindset. I think it's less about money and so on as it is more about changing your habits," Hammer said.

A 'Shopping Bag Freedom Act' has been proposed at the state capitol by Muenster Rep. Drew Springer who said a plastic bag ban is a social tax on the poor.

He argues that bag bans are for show and that they are an overreach of big government.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.