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44 Roving Reporter | "By now you’ve probably read or heard about the Rockport City Council..." | By Jean Payne, Skip the Plastic

Greetings to all,

By now you’ve probably read or heard about the Rockport City Council Workshop last week where the possibility of a single use, plastic bag ordinance was discussed. It was a very informative and up-beat discussion ending with the Council directing staff to study all of the various ordinances out there (especially the 10 already passed in Texas communities) and to develop a draft ordinance tailor made for Rockport.

When completed, this draft will be brought to the Council for review, comment and alteration. Following ample opportunity for input, the ordinance will then be brought to the Council for votes to adopt. In order to pass an ordinance of this nature in Rockport, it must receive a majority vote at two consecutive, monthly Council meetings. The timeline for that action should begin in February or March. Should the ordinance pass, there will be a substantial grace period giving time for merchants to prepare.

We left the workshop with elevated spirits and optimistic that as a community we are on our way to reducing the proliferation of these unsightly things littering our landscape and polluting our watersheds, bays and Gulf. It will now be up to us to educate our friends and neighbors while supporting our City Council members and Mayor as they deliberate this ordinance. Please be vocal in your support of them.

Stay tuned for further developments and as public meetings are scheduled, we will be letting you know so you can be sure to attend. In the meantime, if you know of a group or organization that would be interested in a Skip the Plastic presentation, please let us know.

Jean Payne
Skip the Plastic
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The WWN is a proud partner of Skip the Plastic.



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44 comments:

said...

I hope they do pass it. 10 cents a bag will certainly make more people remember to bring in their reusables.

said...

Will Walmart and HEB be bound by this ordinance if it is passed?

said...

I hope so!!!!

said...

I don't foresee that they will be exempt. Similar ordinances in other cities have required all stores to make the change.

If Walmart and HEB want to look good on this issue, they should consider making the switch proactively before it's required by a city law,

Neil

said...

I was at the City Council Workshop discussion last week. I believe Mayor Wax said he did not favor exempting any retailers from the ordinance although he did not mention Walmart or HEB. One Council member asked about Walmart and HEB and I said in the meeting that both retailers already had complied in other communities in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. Since both retailers are two of the biggest providers of free single-use plastic bags in our community, they must be covered by the ordinance for it to have a significant impact. Gayly Opem, Skip the Plastic - Rockport/Fulton

said...

Los Angeles County has an affluent suburb to its north, called Stevenson Ranch. Right next to it, along the 5 Freeway, is the City of Santa Clarita, also a very high income community. Both communities are very Republican in their thinking.

Los Angeles County passed the plastic bag ban, but the City of Santa Clarita did not. The result, the Wal-Mart and chain supermarket store in Stevenson Ranch lost a tremendous volume of sales revenue, and thereby sales tax revenue, to nearby Santa Clarita, whose supermarkets and Wal-Mart still offer plastic bags. That situation illustrates the point that enacting a plastic bag ban in Rockport may be found by many consumers to be a nuisance, and they may do their heavy shopping in Portland, Gregory or Aransas Pass. As of September 30, 2014 California has a statewide plastic shopping bag ban, so the sales tax revenue trend may reverse itself in Stevenson Ranch/Santa Clarita, but clearly given Texas' libertarian sentiments, it is unlikely that we will ever see a statewide ban on the use of plastic shopping bans here. Thus, the question becomes "How will Rockport make up lost sales tax revenue" if large volume shoppers use the Wal-Mart and grocery stores in neighboring communities? Clearly, by raising all of our real estate taxes, which Rockport's senior citizens can ill afford.

More important than the loss of sales tax revenue to the City of Rockport from such a plastic bag ban is the negative public health effect of requiring people to use recyclable shopping bags they own. Here's a news report by perfectly legitimate Bloomberg news, concerning the recyclable grocery bags role in spreading ecoli, salmonella and norovirus infections:

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-02-04/the-disgusting-consequences-of-liberal-plastic-bag-bans

Think about it. How likely are you to wash 5 to 10 fancy canvas shopping bags every time you go grocery shopping? Alternatively, if one uses the free, cheezy plastic fibre bags like we receive at various events, which are not washable, those bags are equally likely to become soaked in bacteria and viruses and cause the same health problems.

See these similar public health oriented articles on the negative effects of plastic bag bans. You'll note that one is from the Los Angeles Times, which is not exactly a bastion of right-wing pro-business thinking:

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/09/news/la-heb-grocery-bag-diarrhea-20120509

Also see: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/sns-green-bacteria-in-shopping-bags-story.html

http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/10/08/californias-plastic-bag-ban-myths-and-facts/201064

http://www.foodprotection.org/publications/food-protection-trends/article-archive/2011-08assessment-of-the-potential-for-cross-contamination-of-food-products-by-reusable-shopping-bag/

Rockport and Fulton, and the surrounding county areas have a disproportionally large population of people over age 65. Those are exactly a demographic who, in addition to young children, are least likely to be able to fight off food borne-illness and the most likely to die from it.

As I often say to thoughtless environmentalists, here in the United States human beings are the most endanger species, yet very little thought is ever given, at the local legislative level, to protecting the public health.

Jennifer Shaw
Rockport, TX

said...

I don't consider the bags single use, I reuse for garbage. And I don't know what I would have done without them when I had a dog to clean up after. Will having to pay for garbage and doggie bags increase dirty messes?

said...

I wondered the same thing as I have two cats who use a litter box. However, I am a strong supporter of decreasing plastic in the environment and viola...I've discovered ample plastic bags for kitty litter...ice bags, bread bags, frozen vegetable bags, cereal bags, produce bags, newspaper bags and so on. Amazing what shows up when one's attention/intension is focused on this important issue. Now if I could just get my husband to clean the litter box.

said...

Thanks for the research however it's evident you did not read the entire article on the "media matters" web site you cited. You evidently focused upon the "myths" rather than the "facts" discussions. Suggest you review the article again. Also be aware that "The American Chemistry Council" represents many plastic bag manufactures.

said...

No you should not have to pay for bags. Just look at what you buy on a regular basis. I have 2 indoor cats and clean out their litter boxes twice a day so I need at least 14 bags a week. You have many other bags from shopping, most of which are plastic or have plastic inside of paper. I use bread bags, newspaper delivery bags, ice cube bags, ice cream cartons, potato chip bags, plastic bags from produce purchases (which will be exempt), and the list can go on and on. That's the point. We don't need more plastic bags--we have plenty without the free giveaways that litter our land and waterways and damage our environment. From Gayly Opem.

said...

From the length of this comment, one might assume it was written after extensive research by the author. However, a thorough reading casts a shadow of doubt. If you read through the links provided above, you will see old dates such as May 2012 LA Times, 2011 Food Protection and Feb 4, 2013 Bloomberg View. The most current link provided from Media Matters Oct. 8 2014 in fact reports how these out-of-date claims have been disproved or misquoted. Media Matters provides a "Myths and Facts" format. Be sure when you read it, you know if you are reading the "Myth" section or the "Fact" section, or you may find yourself quoting unreliable sources.
Reply by Gayly Opem

said...

This is such a great idea, Gayly. As a cat owner myself, I have the "poop" issue as well. I never really thought to use these other types of bags....vegetable bags are a very nice alternative. Also, I loved the Sunshine bags they handed out for Earth Day in Rockport. I wish the City (and Town) would look into these types of bags, as they are biodegradable. I know they are more expensive, but believe they are worth the additional cost.

said...

First of all, I have never met a "thought-less" environmentalist. That is most definitely an oxymoron, in my opinion. Secondly, how is bringing cloth bags into a store from your home, any more of a "public health risk" than bringing in the clothes on your body? Isn't it more of a health risk to think that the fish we ingest have been eating the plastic we have dumped into the oceans? Have you never seen x-rays of fish that have gobs and gobs of plastic bits in their stomach? When we eat these fish, what do you think WE are ingesting....PLASTIC! How is that healthy for the human race?

said...

I would hope that city staff or our local news medias do there homework and ask who are these guys, Skip the Plastic. We know the locals, but who are the rest? Am sure they are a 501c(3) and therefore subject to Freedom of Information Act. Ask for their Articles of Incorporation and copies of their IRS form 990 from a couple of years. Keck who knows, they might be North Koreans!! And, we might try to enforce our current laws against littering, would help.

said...

I've often wondered why stores charge for resuable shopping bags with their logo but give away thousands upon thousands of plastic bags for free. Oftentimes way more than necessary.

Other times I mention to not bag my gallon jugs (milk, tea, flavored drink, etc.) and it's bagged anyway. Other times I have a few different items and they are put in separate bags just because they are different types of items.

I wonder how much the plastic bags cost. I mean, do the math and figure out how much they'd really be spending if they gave out reusable bags for free.

said...

What do you use for your kitchen garbage?

said...

I use the paper bags from HEB. As long as nothing is super wet, or liquid of course, they work just fine. I change them out a little more frequently, but a couple quick staples at the top, and they cinch up nicely for the garbage pick up. I also use them for my refuse from my garden/lawn.

said...

I didn't know HEB offered a choice - paper or plastic.

said...

I agree that stores will often bag items in plastic even when requested not to do so. I make a point to tell the checker and bagger that I do not take plastic bags and ask them nicely to take the items out of the plastic bag--them, not me, as that has more impact on the bagger. I understand plastic bags are cheap for the retailer to buy, but I also believe that greater demand for alternatives will lower those prices. Of course, the best thing is to carry your own. Sam's Club and other retailers have not provided bags of any kind for years. People who go to those retailers know this and take their own.

said...

Maybe the authors of these comments could state if they are actually a resident of Rockport and/or Aransas county. I am.

said...

Skip the Plastic - Rockport/Fulton is a group of concerned residents of Aransas County who came together in early 2013 after seeing a presentation at The Aquarium at Rockport Harbor on the dangers of plastic in a marine environment. We did not have a name then, but did some research and decided to affiliate with Corpus Christi's Skip the Plastic group that is part of the national Surfriders Foundation. You can read more at skiptheplastic.surfrider.org! In a bold move to help clean up their community, Port Aransas’ City Council voted 5-1 yesterday in favor of a plastic bag ban ordinance.

Our local group decided at the beginning to have an educational mission which is:
To reduce the impact of plastics in the environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.

We do not charge membership fees and do not fund-raise so saw no reason to become a 501c(3). However, we are more than willing to share information with anyone who asks. In the last two years, we made presentations to about 20 different groups such as the Aransas County Commissioners Court, the Key Allegro Property Owners, the Aransas County Navigation District, and the RV Owners Members of the Rockport Chamber of Commerce. We staged several public events such as providing environmental films for the Rockport Film Festival, Bag Monster march in the Oyster Fest and Tropical Christmas Parades and, with proclamations from the Mayors of Rockport and Fulton, the Skip the Plastic Weekend over Memorial Day Weekend in 2014.

Please feel free to contact me for more information at gaylygopem@yahoo.com

said...

This is possibly the most ridiculous comment I have ever seen. Why on Earth would the North Koreans want to clean up our environment?

said...

YES! They don't really advertise it much, I guess, but they have them right there with all the plastic bags. I use them all the time for many different applications around the house!

said...

I am a resident of Aransas County, As I stated in an earlier reply, all the members of Skip the Plastic - Rockport/Fulton live in the County, some in Rockport or Fulton specifically. I also put my name on all comments. It would be informative, not to mention show a strength of conviction, if all comments included a name.

said...

Jennifer Shaw makes the claim ("often" she says) that "here in the United States human beings are the most endanger species." That's a very curious claim, considering that according to the Census Bureau there is one birth in the United States every 8 seconds, one death every 11 seconds, and one international migrant added every 33 seconds, for a net gain of one person added to our population every 16 seconds. Meanwhile, the rate of loss of animal and plant species is greater now than at any time in history. Internationally, an estimated 100 plant and animal species are lost to deforestation- every day. As many as half of the species on the earth could die within the next 30 years in one of the fastest mass extinctions in the planet's history. Why? Because of the exponential growth of the human population and the rate at which we consume resources. It took from the beginning of human history until 1800 for the human population to reach one billion. Only 130 years later, by 1930, the population had doubled, to two billion. The third billion took only 30 years- 1959. We humans were on a roll- the fourth billion took us only 15 years- 1974. And the fifth billion only 13 years (1987). Do you see a pattern? We passed six billion in 1999, and seven billion in 2012. At the current rate, as we continue to go forth and multiply, and multiply, and multiply, the human population will reach 8 billion around the year 2028. Ms. Shaw, I'm so sorry that the thoughtless environmentalists are now asking us to find an alternative to an unnecessary practice that is causing damage on a local and global scale, but as 8, 16, 32 billion increasingly desperate humans compete for increasingly limited food, water, shelter, and clothing, not being allowed to use a plastic bag will pretty much be the least of our problems.

said...

The bags you see on the ground are mostly from HEB and Walmart. The problem is more about the people than the actual bag. Trash is trash and banning one item may not solve the actual problem.

The big stores can absorb the cost of a ban much easier than the local retailers. It would be very unfair if these stores were exempt.

said...

I would most definitely agree that exempting the large chains would be asinine. And yes, it will not "fix" the entire trash issue, but it will GREATLY help the initiative, in my opinion. It might be a small step in terms of a large problem, but extremely necessary for our wildlife and citizens.

When tourists come into Rockport and learn of this ban...which they undoubtably will if they shop locally....they will be forced to think about this issue in SOME capacity, and hopefully, in my eyes, bring that nugget of an idea--this eco consciousness--back with them to their home city or town.

said...

It is my belief this was a Rockport ordinance although it may seem different to others.

said...

Well said, and I could not agree more. Human beings are hardly endangered as a species.

said...

Yet not a single science based reply by any of the "ban the plastic bag ladies" to the numerous legitimate press articles discussing the serious public health risk of the build-up of ecoli, salmonella and norovirus infections which develop inside recyclable grocery bags.

Jennifer Shaw
Rockport TX

said...

Any while you all are at it, why not ask the Rockport City Council and the Aransas County Commissioners to ban the sale of water solid in plastic bottles?

Jennifer Shaw
Rockport TX

said...

@ Greg Harlan: Your selective regurgitation of my comment misses the key point. "here in the United States human beings are the most endanger species...very little thought is ever given, at the local legislative level, to PROTECTING THE PUBLIC HEALTH."

You can babble on about millions of people and plants on planet Earth, but it's clear you do not give a rat's patootie about the health of the people of Rockport.

Children and senior citizens are the two sectors of Rockport's population who are at the greatest risk of getting ecoli, salmonella and norovirus infections from fabric grocery bags and faux-fabric grocery bags which are NOT thoroughly washed in hot water each time they are used.

And you know darn well that most busy working people, especially the poorest sector of Northern Aransas County's population who have to pay to use a washer and dryer, are NOT going to wash their fabric grocery bags and they are going to get sick from the infectious agents which percolate and grow inside the bags after the bags' contents are removed. From your point of view it's just fine to let actual children and senior citizens living in Rockport get sick to because the planet has too many people on it anyway.

Jennifer Shaw
Rockport, TX

said...

@ Anonymous who uses HEB's paper bags. That's obviously a better alternative than re-using dirty germ infested fabric bags like the kind HEB and other supermarkets sell. However, the next thing you know some money-grubbing politician, like Mayor Nelda Martinez of Corpus Christi, will want to tax you 10 Cents per paper bag for the privilege of using one.

said...

But if you're a person like Mayor Nelda Martinez of Corpus Christi, you'll want that 10 Cents to be paid to your city as a tax...so then it will be 20 Cents per bag if the store wants you to pay for the privilege of receiving a paper bag.

said...

I must have more respect for the residents of Aransas County than Ms. Shaw as I do think they will wash recyclable bags when they need to, just as they wash their own clothes when they need to. I assume Ms Shaw washes her clothes when they get dirty too. And NO, the residents who use recyclable bags are not going to get sick as those reports have been shown to be half-truths and misrepresentations. The scientific proof debunking those myths was provided by Ms Shaw herself. She can enlighten herself if she would simply read the 2014 article she cited in her link from Media Matters. Here are a few summary quotes from that article which has far more scientific details than can be provided here.

FACT: Studies Fail To Link Deaths To Bags And Washing Bags Can Prevent Contamination

Expert: San Francisco Study Fails To Rule Out Alternative Explanation. Brad Plumer, then a writer for TheWashington Post's WonkBlog, reported that the study claiming an increase in E. Coli deaths in San Francisco was based on incomplete information and failed to rule out an alternative explanation of the increase:

Expert: "Your Average Healthy Person Is Not Going To Get Sick" From The Bacteria. NPR's Shots blog reported that the study finding bacteria in most bags and E. coli in some failed to note whether the E. coli found were harmless strains:

Washing Bags Eliminates 99.9 Percent Of The Bacteria. The Federal Food Safety blog from the Department of Health and Human Services recommends washing reusable bags, which according to an International Association for Food Protection article eliminates over 99.9 percent of the bacteria found in the reusable bags:
Incidentally, the description Ms. Shaw used of "plastic bag ban ladies" is equally untrue. Skip the Plastic--Rockport/Fulton has male members in its founding group as well as much masculine support in the many prominent organizations that voted to support our mission and become sponsoring partners.

said...

Because I am a widow living on a small pension I fall into the low income category, yet I found it very easy to switch to reusable shopping bags. When one considers the huge impact that single use bags make on our environment, it only makes sense for each of us do what we can to reverse the damage. While no single person can do more than a drop in the bucket, collectively we can become a driving force.

said...

I really think that all of this comes down to accountability. If residents, stores, gas stations, other businesses and YES, real estate companies!!, were held accountable for the state of their lots, then our community wouldn't be as littered as it has become. Think about this: if someone could be fined for litter on their property, this would spur more physical action, the City then could take that collected money and put it back into community clean up, revitalization, beautification, and other public interest channels. It's going to take all of us to fix this problem. Nothing is an instant fix, it will take time, and steps like 'accountability' to move all of us in the right direction.

P.S. Why does the City mow the highway medians, and then leave all of the trash to float around? Why not finish the whole job, and pick up with trash exposed after they mow? Perhaps they should look into investing in a vacuum truck, like the ones they use in Canada.

said...

I hope they pass it, too. I visited my sister for a time in a city that banned plastic bags. The hardest part at first was remembering to take the bags into the store. Sometimes I expected to buy only one or two items and "wouldn't need a bag" but once inside would remember I needed other things not in my "brain list." I got better at lists AND taking bags. Worst case, I paid my 10-cents per bag and vowed to remember the fiber ones next time.

Even though we do not currently have a ban, I use reusable bags now out of habit. Cleaning them is easy. Some of the fabrics can obviously be drip dried, and they dry quickly; canvas can get popped in the drier. I don't have the hang-up a friend has about taking only HEB bags into HEB. I have a mishmash of bags and use whatever I have with me; the people who pack them don't care. My sister says most vendors distributed permanent bags for free during a long transition/learning period. She collected quite a few in that timeframe and so paid nothing. I see no reason why the stores wouldn't do the same here, especially if requested to do so. HEB and Walmart are both familiar with implementing bans.

My goodness, some of the comments make it sound like HEB or Walmart is going to dump a test tube or Petri dish into the bag before loading the groceries. The tone and word choice of others swerve into personal attack territory, though (trying to be gracious here) perhaps they were not meant that way. Thanks to those who have reminded us that earlier articles about contamination were disproved. And thanks also to those who are driving this program. It will be good for our area's beauty and for its inhabitants: human and critters, domesticated and wild.

I confess I chuckled at the thought of people driving to Portland (50-plus miles round trip) or Aransas Pass (20) after a local plastic bag ban. I know several people who think going from one end of town to the other is "far," so I plan to rib them about their plans for future shopping.

said...

Ask not what your city can do for you...Ask what you can do for your city.

said...

Ask not what your city can do for you...Ask what you can do for your city.

said...

The City does not mow the highway medians, that is the responsibility of Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) and is accomplished by outside contractors.

The City, Town and other government entities do participate in all the annual cleanups - Adopt-a-Beach, etc. City employees have participated in 'Adopt-a-highway' for years. Civic organizations such as the Clean Team, Keep Rockport Beautiful and Rotary Club also participate in cleaning our community (others do too but these come to mind).

I liked Pat's comment - "collectively we can become a driving force". So next time you see the notice of the 'Adopt-a-Beach' clean up - volunteer. You'll be glad you did and help fix this problem.

said...

Irma, I know your inclination is to defend the City, but I pay taxes AND I clean up trash, I just think it's more efficient and responsible for the powers that mow to simultaneously pick up the debris...City or otherwise.

said...

@Jennifer Shaw: Thank you very much for the very cleaver response you directed toward me. I’m just getting caught up on reading e-mails, so I hope you weren’t thinking that I didn’t appreciate it.

To summarize:
You: “…here in the United States human beings are the most endanger species…” (I assume you meant “endangered” species, which specifically means that the population is getting smaller, to the point of possible extinction).

Me: Census records and population projections indicate that the exact opposite is true, which has caused, is causing, and will cause serious problems for the planet and its inhabitants, and maybe we should take steps to conserve resources.

You: From your point of view it's just fine to let actual children and senior citizens living in Rockport get sick to (too?) because the planet has too many people on it anyway.

Thanks again, that was the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Made my day. Who says irony is dead?

said...

I can answer that question Marc. The cost of plastic vs. "reusable" bags is tremendous. I use a couple of vendors for bags, but I'm sure the Big Box stores get MUCH better pricing due to the volume. I can purchase 1000 t-shirt plastic bags for $48. Plain white paper bags with handles (which we use) cost us $79 for 250 (med size bags). The lowest quality reusable bags start at $150 per 100 bags. As you can see, the cost is substantial.



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