"Paper Or Plastic": You Won't Be Hearing That In Brownsville Anymore

Brownsville is never going to be confused with Portland, San Franciscio or some other bucolic tree-hugging liberal city, but it's home to just as many crunchy ecological activists as any yurt-living commune, apparently.

Yesterday its version of the city council voted to ban merchants from using plastic bags except for some limited purposes. The ban is voluntary this year, and mandatory starting in 2011, the Brownsville Herald reports.

There was no discussion at the City Commission meeting, and only supporters of the ban showed up to speak, the paper said. Whether that means Brownsville residents all love the ban, or had no idea it was being proposed, is difficult to tell.

Supporters were happy, though.

"I think it is going to be wonderful," Craig Timmer told the commission, noting that the youth of today will see a different Brownsville when they grow up. He said the future Brownsville would be "really, really fantastic" instead "of a big mess that we see right now."

Plastic bags, of course, are a relatively new phenomenon, and they're essentially indestructible. There are places in the Pacific Ocean where currents take millions of the bags, according to authors like Alan Weisman, and the pile just keeps getting bigger. Likewise, garbage dumps on land and filled with the bags. Some cities and countries have resorted to a surcharge for those insisting on using plastic bags; some have just banned them. And now Brownsville, of all places, has joined that latter group.

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