We live in Houston, Texas, near Woodland Park along Little White Oak Bayou. The trees along the edge of the bayou are filled with birds and lizards and insects and plastic. That's right: styrofoam, water bottles, old banners and old tires, and most of all, plastic bags. Our neighbors and scout troops are always out there picking up the litter, but after every storm, even more trash washes back into our bayou. When we were young, we just thought that's what the bayous had to look like; as we got older, it really started to bother us.
Instead of just complaining about it, we decided to do do something. We began with a petition to the City of Houston and Mayor Sylvestor Turner, asking him to create an ordinance against the single use plastic bags grocery stores use. We began doing research and found that the bags kill wildlife, block our waterways, and make the city look like we don't care about the Earth. That might be the way old Houston was, but not the one we've grown up in, or the Houston we're building.
Since we first began, our actions have blossomed into many projects. We testified and lobbied in Austin at the Capitol, holding press conferences, participating in rallies, and attending Texas Supreme Court hearings. We've given speeches and presentations. We've even begun a microenterprise that employs a refugee woman named Khatera to create reusable bags out of banners and blue jeans. By using these upcycled materials, we keep more plastic and material out of our landfills.
When we started, we thought our task wouldn't be too difficult. Who wants sea creatures to choke on plastic bags? Who wouldn't agree that clogging storm drains in a city like Houston is something we have to stop doing? The City of Laredo banned bags to help with their flood problems; Kermit, Texas banned them so the cattle wouldn't keep eating them and dying; we always thought of Houston as a leader, and we thought our city would be the next to ban the bags in Texas.
Now we know that many of the single use plastic bags that are clogging our oceans and riverways, are made right here in the city. Some of the most powerful people in Texas make a lot of money making bags that muck up the rest of the people's lives. It hasn't been so easy. The Texas Senate is deliberating about whether or not it's legal for cities to ban bags.
We've learned we can't be the kind of girls that give up very easily. We can't depend on other people to do the right thing unless we help educate them. That's what we're doing now because we want Houston to be a city that really believes "it's worth it."
Please join our cause and help Houston be known for moss in it's trees instead of plastic.