Viewpoints: Banning bags in businesses: another step toward green

Environmentalism is a growing trend. Since global warming appeared in the national spot light, more states and cities have started green initiatives.

Austin is the latest example. You won’t be hearing people asking if you prefer paper or plastic in Austin grocery stores anymore. The city effected a bag ban March 1. It’s called the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance.

The ordinance places restrictions on carryout bags at businesses and encourages the use of reusable bags. You can find all of the details about the ban at

All Austin businesses will be affected by the ban and will have to follow strict government guidelines as to what bags are acceptable. Some are considering raising prices to compensate for any losses.

Austin officials wanted to prepare residents for the change. The city is paying $850,000 in advertising to get the message across.

Despite the advertising, some people aren’t taking the environmental push too well. Many are concerned with the possibility of higher prices and bag fees. Too much government control and limitations of freedom are concerns, as well.

The movement to get rid of single-use plastic bags comes from its negative environmental footprint. The common plastic grocery store bag is not biodegradable and stays in landfills for hundreds of years.

In addition, plastic bags are dangerous to wildlife.

Animals mistake the bags for food and die after swallowing or choking on them.

I see the potential problems and understand that the ordinance may seem overwhelming, but I do think that we have to put things into perspective.

The big picture counts, and in this case, it really counts. We are talking about the future of the planet that sustains us.

If we are not good stewards of it, there will be worse consequences than restrictions on what kind of bags we can use.

Our ecosystem is fragile, and we are dependent on it. I think we should care more about the consequences of an unhealthy ecosystem than how much control this gives the government.

A ruined ecosystem will be our biggest problem if we don’t become part of the solution now.

The short-term problems may appear to be big, but I guarantee that if we don’t start taking small steps like participating in bag bans, we will regret it later.

Ethics play an important part, too. I think treating the environment with respect is an ethical issue.

I’m not saying if you disagree with bag bans that it means you are unethical. What I am saying is that we cannot stand by and watch the earth deteriorate.

At the very least, we owe it to ourselves to treat the environment with respect. Life will get harder if we don’t.

Examples such as the city of Austin show that support for environmentalism is growing. Legislation is being passed, and several states are participating in green initiatives. Caring about the environment is not a fad.

Let’s not find out what happens if we let this problem get out of hand. To be effective, we must be proactive. I encourage everyone to actively practice sustainability in your community. Go green.

Brooke Bailey is senior journalism major from Little Rock. She is a reporter for the Lariat.