Is brown the new green?

Brownsville is going green. In the words of City Commissioner Edward Camarillo, “We will be known as the green capital of the world.”

Does the South Texas city have Toyota Prius police cars? A solar-powered city hall? Electronic electric bills? Rainwater catchment cisterns on its tanker trucks?

Oh, no. Any municipality could do that stuff. Brownsville has gone where not even Austin has dared to go before. Right to the core of what environmentalists from Al Gore to Alec Baldwin agree is the root of ecological evil: urban tumbleweeds.

You may know them as plastic shopping bags. I know them as dirty diaper tamers. But did we all know that they kill 14 million trees in the U.S. each year? That’s right. It’s there, sourceless, in the preamble of City of Brownsville Ordinance 2009-911-E.

And all this time we thought paper sacks were killing the trees!

Beginning January 1, Brownsville shoppers can’t sack their stuff in non-reusable plastic bags without paying a $1 fee to their city.

Supposedly, the $1 luxury sack tax won’t last forever. Once retailers run out of their existing supplies of bags, they must stop offering plastic.

City customs enforcement agents must be on high alert to snag any sacks at the gates. It’s too bad that smugglers can condense about a million of them into a block the size of a Kleenex box.

That’s ironic, too. How much space do the tumbleweeds actually take up in a landfill? A fraction of a fraction. But this fight is not about making space in a landfill. It’s about making space in our hearts for mother nature.

But would mother nature object if a plastic bag is filled with trash that Tim Teenager would have otherwise chunked out his truck window?

What does she think about the food products packaged in petroleum: bread, tortillas, chips, marshmallows, etc.? And the produce bags? Is their clock ticking? “Honey, I would have gotten some bananas for the kids but I left my potato sack in the car.”

What about the grocery store aisle of plastic bags for sale in all shapes, sizes, colors and smells? Should we go mad at Glad?

I’d like to be a fly on the exterior wall of the Brownsville Home Depot the day it runs out of plastic bags for a buck. The sight of Curt Contractor walking out bagless juggling twenty-seven PVC couplings or, better yet, the burly man walking in with five pink reusable sacks.

My guess is Home Depot will never run out of plastic bags, and the City of Brownsville will never run out of cash from its newfound revenue source. And liberals will have found another harmless scapegoat on which to vent their misguided environmental fury.

1 Response to “Is brown the new green?”


  1. 1 Bennye Waskom January 29, 2011 at 03:36

    Typical difference between conservatives and liberals….Conservatives don’t like plastic bags….conservatives don’t use plastic bags…..Liberals don’t like plastic bags….liberals try to legislate a ban on plastic bags for anyone!


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