By Tracy L. Barnett
The Texas Observer
Nine-year-old Mauricio Treviño is every retailer’s worst nightmare.
On a field trip that included a walk along the Rio Grande recently, his grandmother, Laredo businesswoman Tina Treviño, took Mauricio and her nine other grandchildren to a taquería for lunch. The restaurateur brought their order, served in Styrofoam and double-bagged in plastic. Having just seen an exhibit on plastic pollution at the Laredo Water Museum, Mauricio eyed the bags and spoke up.
“Do you know, sir, that this plastic will take 1,000 years to decompose? And that these Styrofoam things will never disintegrate? Do you know that’s what you’ll be leaving me?”
The man turned red and began to stammer, Tina Treviño recalls. “He didn’t really know what to say,” she said.
The Laredo restaurant owner faces the same question as retailers in 10 other Texas cities, where local bans on single-use plastic bags were recently upended by a Texas Supreme Court ruling: To bag or not to bag?
The stakes are high. Austin’s ordinance alone is estimated to have reduced single-use plastic bag litter by 75 percent and yearly consumption by nearly 197 million bags. On South Padre Island, trash in the Gulf was noticeably diminished, and in some small towns in South and West Texas, the “plastic tumbleweeds” that threatened local livestock became an endangered species.
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Austin Laredo plastic bags plastic bans plastic pollution single-use plastics Texas Supreme Court