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PRO: Banning bags is better for environment, can save business owners money

By ALLISON MILES
Jan. 23, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2011 at 7:23 p.m.

Emilie Eggleston

the issueIt's a common question at many a grocery check-out: paper or plastic? But, as the movement to "go green" and eliminate plastic bags moves forward, fewer consumers find themselves left with that choice.

San Francisco banned such bags in 2007 and, recently, the entire country of Italy embraced the trend. In January, Brownsville became the first city in the Lone Star State to enact such an ordinance.

No such movement looms in Victoria's immediate future, but here people weigh in on their thoughts about banning plastic bags.

Plastic bags create unnecessary litter, and moving away from them is a step in the right direction, said Emilie Eggleston, who owns Raw Waves, an organic smoothie bar inside Victoria's Organic Emporium.

Eliminating them completely is not a gradual move, however, and could create throw-back issues in the future.

Eggleston always shops with reusable bags and uses environmentally-friendly products, such as cardboard cup caddies and biodegradable plastic cups at her business, she said.

Greenpeace, an environmental advocacy group, has an online petition urging cities nationwide to ban plastic bags.

It takes about 12 million barrels of oil to produce such bags each year, according to the petition. Also, of the 15 billion pounds of plastic the United States produces annually, only about 1 billion pounds are recycled.

Once bags are produced, many wind up along streets, stuck in trees and even in the oceans, according to the petition, where they can harm and kill birds and marine life.

Switching to reusable bags benefits the environment, retailers and the individuals who no longer have to deal with the plastic variety, said Thomas Yantis, executive director of Keep Victoria Beautiful.

"You shift some work over to the consumer to remember their reusable bags when they go to the store," he said. "But it's worth it."

Victoria's city ordinance states that businesses are responsible for keeping the portion of the easement in front of their establishments clean, Yantis added, explaining that plastic bags make up a majority of the trash found along roadways.

"It would cut down on their costs," he said. "They wouldn't have to spend as much of their time sending employees out to clean up."

Related: CON: Banning bags would cut jobs, introduce other issues

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