Before I begin this blog, I need to get something out in the open: I am a huge proponent of any effort to help the environment (within reason). I do believe that global warming is a reality that must be dealt with, and I bring my own shopping bags to the grocery store. That said, it should come as no surprise that I support Austin's efforts to ban plastic shopping bags. As Kate Galbraith reported in a New York Times article, plastic bags have a "habit of flying everywhere and getting eaten by animals, so banning them would help the environment" (Galbraith).
Whole Foods, a national chain, has already taken this step and been highly successful. I was a little skeptical at first but quickly got used to their paper bags. Not only are they better for the environment, they can also be reused in so many ways! Additionally, since they're stronger than plastic bags they can hold more groceries and are less likely to break. Basically, I see no downfall to the plastic bag ban.
Another option is to have plastic bags as an option, but charge a small fee for them. Countries in Europe have already done this with enormous success. According to the same New York Times article, the fee decreased the consumption of plastic bags by 94%. This may be the best compromise so those who are firm believers in plastic bags will still be happy, but they will be used much less frequently. By starting with this less extreme action, it will be easier to completely phase out plastic bags in the future.