{Bag Ban}

I've officially survived my first week of the bag ban.  That's right, the BAG ban.  For those of you that still have the option of 'paper or plastic', let me explain...

On March 1, 2013, the city of Austin passed a city-wide ordinance banning all single-use carryout bags (for that link, be sure to scroll down to article 7). That means: 


Goodbye plastic bags...
I wasn't affected as much as some people.  Or maybe I just don't have that strong of an opinion about it.  I also don't resist THAT kind of change...it's out of our hands and it's here...so just accept it.  Austinites have known about the ban coming for over a year now, so it's not as if they had no idea what would be going on.  Some people have been saving their plastic bags since the first hint of a bag ban.  Some people complain about it at every chance they get.  Some people will cuss about it.  And some people will just accept it and move on with their lives, as there are so many more important things to be focused on.  Me?  Well, I really don't use plastic bags, other than for trash sometimes, so I'm fine with it. 

So, I'm sure you're thinking like most customers that it caught off guard and were un-researched, "So, what do I do?"

Well, that all depends where you're shopping.  At our store, we are offering the following: 
• Pay $1.00 Emergency Fee and use unlimited plastic or paper bags for your order (the money collected is kept by HEB and used to supply free reusable bags every third Saturday of the month)
• Pay $.25 for a plastic reusable bag (these aren't very big...) 
• Purchase a reusable bag: the ones by the register fold up nicely to keep in a back pocket or purse, and they open pretty wide/hold a lot of stuff!  They are also only $1.97.  
• Purchase a reusable bag from our 'reusable bag wall'; prices ranging from $.99 to $5.99.  

Yeah, try explaining those options EVERY.SINGLE.TIME someone does not have a bag or know what to do.  It's exhausting!  I'm definitely grateful that I only work there part-time.  

Then, add all of the disgruntled shoppers.  Please allow me to walk you through a few... 

 One lady was very frustrated with the ban and continued to let everyone and anyone that would listen know... "Yes, because of course those d*mn plastic bags just had a mind of their own...they were alive and flying all over the city.  Of course you just had to do away with them...what other alternative is there?"  Obviously said in the most sarcastic tone EVER.  Ok lady, I get it.  Have a great day!  

Another woman just would NOT drop the subject.  "Well, WHY did they ban all of the bags?  Paper too?  That's outrageous!  It's the stupidest thing to pay a quarter for a PLASTIC reusable bag!!!  But I can still pay an Emergency Fee and still get plastic?  That's just stupid.  What's the f**king point?!"  etc. etc.  My favorite part of her rant, "Well, what did they tell y'all to say about the reason why?  What did they train y'all to respond to customers' questions as to why?"  To which, I replied: "Ma'am, HEB does not support the bag ban, but we can't break the law, so your options are...."  Her face was priceless. 

Last night, HEB was offering free reusable bags (these are the ones that are typically $.25).  Why?  I have no idea.  They told me that they were free for that day, or as long as they would last, and so that was that.  It was so interesting to see customers moan and groan about not being able to have paper or plastic....these same customers also had brought their own reusable bags....but you offer them something free and they pounce all over it!  Even though they had their own bag(s), they refrained from using them and demanded the free bag.  I will never understand the human race. 

But, I'm thankful this week is over (as far as my second job goes) and that I'm off next week for a much needed break!  I'm praying consumers are going to be more accepting over the next week and a half and will realize that the cashiers and store managers are NOT the ones that made the decision to do away with paper and plastic bags.  It's a CITY-WIDE ordinance voted on by Austin's City Council.  Please send your complaints to their office. :)

For more info on this bag ban, including a history of plastic bags in Austin, please check out the Austin Bag Ban website.

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Suzanne Dujka said...

Only in Austin!! :)

Jen said...

Glad to hear you survived, and that there are definitely plenty of options to appease people- if folks would just get over themselves.

Austin Bag Ban said...

Great story! - please vote in the austin bag ban unofficial opinion poll:


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