Bag Hero Program

Our Bag Hero program demonstrates how easy it is to bring your own bags and why it’s important. Each month we recognize an exceptional community member who has chosen to use reusable bags while shopping or promote reusable bags for their customers. Some Bag Heroes are shown shopping at stores that make reusable bags available to customers while others are shown in their place of business. We applaud their efforts to reduce waste and become a part of the solution.

December 2014 – Kathy Jansen, Chef

Our December Bag Hero is Kathy Jansen, the Director of Food Services/Chef at the Mustang Island Episcopal Conference Center on Highway 361. To buy all the ingredients used in preparing meals for up to 80 guests at the center, she has to make 3 to 5 trips a week to the grocery store.

Noting the number of disposable plastic bags she was accumulating, Kathy made the switch to reusable shopping bags six years ago. She now keeps ten reusable bags in her car at all times, so they’re there when she needs them.

The purpose of Mustang Island Episcopal Conference Center, a ministry of Christian hospitality, is to provide a sacred place that offers guests rest, reflection, and renewal surrounded by God’s coastal creation. Kathy says that using reusable bags, “Is one small way for me to be a good steward of the gift of God’s creation.”

November 2014 – Paulette Kluge, CEO of the Corpus Christi CVB

Our November Bag Hero, Paulette Kluge, is the CEO of the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau. She knows how important it is to keep our city looking beautiful for both visitors and our locals, and invites everyone to a challenge: “Imagine all the people you know … imagine all the plastic bags they use in a year and then imagine the gigantic pile of plastic we are stuffing into the ground of our beautiful city.”

Paulette loves collecting and using reusable shopping bags. “Last year for Christmas I used the reusable holiday themed H-E-B bags to “wrap” presents for my friends and family, eliminating boxes and paper that would be thrown away. I invited them all to start collecting and using their bags.”

She hopes we’ll all start collecting and using reusable bags and that we invite friends and family to play. It is time to make it a personal goal to reduce, reuse and recycle.

October 2014 – WWN Rockport, a Popular Website

Our October Bag Heroes are the women of WWN Rockport, an online newsletter with a large readership in the Rockport-Fulton community.

Alicia, WWN webmaster & owner, says, “We live in a wildlife-centric area, so it’s imperative that we are all mindful of how our actions affect our natural environment. It may seem like a small thing to use a reusable bag, but if we all make small choices we will make one BIG difference!”

Barbara Gurtner, founder of WWN adds, “When I first began taking reusable bags into stores, I never knew how many to take. How much shopping am I going to do? A friend solved the dilemma by telling me how she does it. She keeps one large bag filled with all her other bags and carries them with her. When standing in the check-out line, if she sees the people next to her don’t have reusable bags, she gives them one or more from her collection. This way she eliminates single use plastic bags from landfills and roadsides not only for herself and new friends, but for countless times in the future. Thank you, Patty, for a great example of ‘Paying it Forward.’ I now do this every time I shop.”

September 2014 – Joan & Scott Holt, Marine Scientists

Our September Bag Heroes are Joan and Scott Holt, marine scientists from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and avid birders. Now retired, they spend their time birding in Port Aransas at the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond or traveling to exotic places for wildlife viewing.

Like many other Port Aransas residents, the Holts are hoping that their City Council will make a bold statement on September 18th when they vote on a plastic bag ban ordinance.

“Minimizing our use of plastic bags is just another aspect of our environment-friendly philosophy and it is something we think about every time we go shopping. We would be very proud if Port Aransas would step up and take the lead in the Coastal Bend in the effort to reduce the use of plastic bags”.

August 2014 – Freddy Ramirez with Bike Texas

A.P. “Freddy” Ramirez, P.E., is on the Board of Directors for Bike Texas, which encourages and promotes bicycling, increased safety and improved conditions for cyclists. His company, Pendgo Timing, manages running, cycling and paddling races, including the Paddle for Parkinsons race coming up on August 30th. Freddy has pushed race organizers to move away from cheap, disposable bags for entrants’ race packets to sturdy, reusable ones imprinted with sponsors’ logos.

He and his wife live on Corpus Christi Bay and enjoy the peaceful setting, especially on calm mornings when dolphins feed along the shore. Unfortunately, he relates how plastic bags and beverage containers are flushed out into the bay through a nearby storm drain outfall every time it rains.

Having lived in Austin, Freddy is accustomed to bringing his own bags when going to the store. “We shopped at Whole Foods and brought 3 to 4 reusable bags every time. We have this big insulated one that we bought years ago and it keeps all our milk, chilled and frozen foods cold until we get home.” Like our other Bag Heroes, Freddy shows that bringing your own bags is easy once you get in the habit.

July 2014 – Jace Tunnell, Marine Biologist

Jace Tunnell is a marine biologist who understands that we need to be good stewards of our local bays if they’re going to thrive. On an average weekend, you can find his family spending the day at the beach, camping in a state park or enjoying the scenery on Corpus Christi’s bayfront.

As a parent helping to raise two children, he wants to pass on his sense of stewardship and help foster a strong feeling of pride in the city they call home. What’s the connection between city pride, the bay and reusable shopping bags? “I want to set a good example for my kids about making Corpus Christi an even better place to live and protecting the beauty of this great city. Bringing reusable bags when going shopping is one way to do this.”

June 2014 – Dr. Sylvia Earle, World Renowned Oceanographer

For the month of June, we are excited to recognize Dr. Sylvia Earle as our Bag Hero! Anyone who has had the opportunity to hear Dr. Earle speak has no doubt of her passion for the oceans. She warns that the oceans are in crisis, threatened by overfishing and dumping of waste. Still, she remains hopeful that if we act now, we can make changes to save them. Her advice on shopping bags is, “Do your part — part ways with plastic shopping bags. Every plastic bag not used is one that will not tangle a turtle, choke a whale or clutter a beach.”

Dr. Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer. She is a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, has been called a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, and first “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine. She has been the chief scientist of NOAA and is the chair of the Advisory Council of the Harte Research Institute. She has authored more than 190 scientific, technical, and popular publications; lectured in more than 80 countries; and appeared in hundreds of radio and television productions

May 2014 – Mary Beth Maxwell, Shopper

Our May Bag Hero is Mary Beth Maxwell, a Corpus Christi resident and average shopper. We approached her last week as she walked out to her car after buying groceries. When asked why brings her own reusable shopping bags, she replied, “The plastic bags just go flying everywhere and it’s horrible. It’s not good for visitors to see all the plastic trash in our city.”

She sees the reusable bags as an easy alternative to disposable ones. “Sometimes I leave them in my car and have to come back out to get them, but I like having them.”

Mary Beth’s pride in Corpus Christi shows and she knows that the simple step of bringing her own bags is helping to make our city cleaner. Way to go, Mary Beth! You’re our hero!

April 2014 – Rae Mooney, Marine Scientist

Rae Mooney is a Research Scientist Assistant at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute/Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve and a member of the newly formed Skip the Plastic Port Aransas team. Like a lot of people in Port Aransas, Rae is looking forward to April 17th when their City Council will consider adopting a plastic bag ban.

Her inspiration comes not only from a desire to see fewer plastic bags spoiling the area’s natural scenery, but also from a scientific understanding of how disposable plastic bags and other plastic trash are impacting the beach, bay and Gulf water ecosystems. She says, “I’m concerned with the legacy we are leaving behind. I don’t want the future to be full of plastic stuck in dunes or people concerned with toxins in their seafood. I would love to see Port Aransas lead the Coastal Bend in reducing our usage of plastic by getting into the habit of using reusable bags.“

March 2014 – Jean Payne, Rockport Resident

Our March Bag Hero is Jean Payne, a Skip the Plastic Rockport/Fulton team member. Jean and others in Skip the Plastic Rockport/Fulton have been working with government officials and other local groups to reduce the number of plastic bags and that spoil the scenery in areas frequented by tourists and harm marine life. To date, they’ve received a resolution of support from the Aransas County Commissioners and have enlisted five organizations as Skip the Plastic Partners.

February 2014 – Weldon Lucas with Bien Hecho

We’re proud to recognize another of our team members as our February Bag Hero.  Weldon Lucas owns and runs the Bien Hecho clothing line. If you’ve frequented ArtWalk, one of the local farmers markets or the Island Moon market, you’ve probably seen him selling his goods there.

Seeing the need for stylish reusable bags in our area, Weldon added sturdy cotton canvas bags to his product line last year.  He purchases bags made by employees with visual impairments at the West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in San Angelo and then adds his popular prints and designs.

Weldon walks the walk and can be seen with his bags when at stores or on the beach.  Like he says,  “The small act of using reusable bags can make a big difference when we all make the change together!”

January 2014 – Shelia Rogers, Artist

People like our own team member Shelia Rogers show us where problems exist and inspire us to do better. While her thought provoking art made from plastic trash was on display at the Texas State Aquarium, Shelia’s message reached thousands of people.

Her goal is “to educate viewers about the dangers of plastic in our marine environment. I want to motivate them to advocate for a reduction of single-use plastic and make small lifestyle changes that reduce the amount of waste we are putting into our environment. Plastic pollution is a huge problem, but by changing our habits, we can create a cleaner and more sustainable world. Each one of us can make a difference.”

November 2013 – Barbi Leo, Radio & TV Personality

This month, we’re thrilled to recognize Barbi Leo as our Bag Hero. Barbi is a KSAB-FM Morning Show radio personality, KIII TV3 Domingo Live TV Show co-host and realtor with Edwards Capital. She understands the importance of making the switch to reusable bags and shows that like clothes and accessories, they can be stylish and fun.

Barbi notes that many people are already in the habit of using certain types of reusable bags,

“We all use reusable bags daily such as purses or bag packs. We need to make it a habit to carry reusable shopping bags as well. What helped me to get used to them was keeping 4 or 5 bags in my car at all times.”

“I would love to see more people carrying reusable bags when they shop at grocery stores and all stores they frequent, and more retailers encouraging the practice.” Setting the kind of retail example that Barbi mentions, Le’Vu Boutique now offers a 15% discount on the 1st of each month for customers who bring their own bags. Le’Vu is located at 5017 Saratoga Boulevard, Suite 151.

October 2013 – Stephanie Martinez, Aveda Student

Stephanie Martinez, a student at Aveda Institute Corpus Christi, is our October Bag Hero. Aside from training the next generation of beauticians and estheticians, Aveda is known for their high quality beauty care products. Their policy for environmental sustainability resonates from the company’s upper management through the ranks of employees and students.

Stephanie is inspired by this business model and sees the connection with her desire to raise her son in a clean, vibrant community. She and her husband regularly pick up trash in her neighborhood and encourage their neighbors to recycle.

“It’s so simple to pick things up. You have to be the example.” On the subject of reusable bags, Stephanie says, “I can attest that it’s easy to bring your own bag. We put them back in the car after emptying them at home. My son even brings his H-E-B Buddy bag when we go grocery shopping.“

September 2013 – Aislynn Campbell with GROW Local STX

Aislynn Campbell is a true Bag Hero and healthy food activist. As Executive Director of GROW Local STX, she’s helping to cultivate a healthy community by growing the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable foods. A large part of GROW Local STX’s mission is managing the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Wednesday evenings.

The word “community” resonates strongly with Aislynn, a Coastal Bend native. “Civic pride is a number one priority. There needs to be this ownership of our city. Moms, dads, and sisters are beginning to form a better community.”

“We’re learning how to create something sustainable in this community,” she continues. “We need to bring our own bags and focus on the kinds of food we buy.”

August 2013 – Texas Sealife Center

Our August Bag Heroes are the team and volunteers at the Texas Sealife Center. According to Amanda Terry, Director of Rehabilitation at the center, sea turtles eat the bags and birds get them wrapped around their feet. Turtles that ingest bags often die and impaired birds often cannot fly or find food. She tells us, “Wildlife is affected by plastic trash more than people think. If there are less loose plastic bags, then there’s less of a chance of animals ingesting them and becoming entangled in them.”

We salute the Texas Sealife Center for the service it provides to injured sea animals and helping to raise people’s awareness about the dangers posed by plastic marine debris.

July 2013 – Casey Lain, House of Rock

Skip the Plastic recognized Casey Lain, owner of the House of Rock, as our July Bag Hero. When asked why he thinks reusable bags are important, Casey replies, “Taking care of our city, the Sparkling City By the Sea, is a community responsibility. Our downtown bay front and coastlines are a beautiful asset and one of the reasons why I choose to own a business and raise my family here.”

On making the switch to reusable bags, he says, “Changing our habits and mindsets is difficult. With practice and dedication we can all make a difference. The results will be immeasurable and long lasting.”

June 2013 – Jennifer Reid of Threads

All our past bag heroes have been people who bring their own reusable bags when shopping.

For June, we’re recognizing store owner Jennifer Reid since her clothing resale shop, Threads, is helping to change people’s shopping habits. Each time that a customer goes bagless or brings their own bag, they get a card stamped. Once they get six stamps, they receive a free reusable bag with the Threads logo on it!

Jennifer says “I was always aware plastic bags were bad but it wasn’t until I educated myself and saw ‘Bag It’ that I realized how bad they really are. It’s going to affect future generations if we don’t do something now. If I can make one person a little more aware, then I’ll consider it a success.”

Go by Threads at 5706 McArdle Road and see for yourself how a local business can make a difference.

May 2013 – Daniela Sanchez with KORO

KORO-TV News Anchor/Reporter Daniela Sanchez is a real Bag Hero. Noting the problems that disposable plastic bags cause, she says, “I think it’s time that the community comes together and brings reusable bags. We all need to remind each other to make a conscious effort to start using them.”

Gracias Daniela! Esperemos que más gente siguán tu gran ejemplo.

April 2013 – Jeff Francis, Marine Scientist

Skip the Plastic is recognizing Corpus Christi resident Jeff Francis as our April Bag Hero. A recent PhD graduate of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Jeff’s research in ecosystems services emphasizes the importance of healthy bays and estuaries for our local economy.

When asked why he brings his own bag when shopping, Jeff replies “Why contribute to the buildup of plastics in the environment, especially when we have good alternatives?”

We also want to thank Stripes for their recent efforts in training their associates and informing customers about options to taking plastic bags with their purchases. Through new signage and employee education in stores across the Coastal Bend area, Stripes is taking a proactive approach to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up littering our city and our bays.

March 2013 – Lisa James, Mom

We’ve chosen Lisa James as our March Bag Hero for her commitment to keeping plastic bags out of the ocean. As a mother of two, she shares her love of the ocean by taking her kids to the beach and by choosing reusable bags to help keep the Gulf of Mexico free of plastic bags. That’s why she uses reusable bags everywhere she shops, whether it be at Wind and Wave Surf Shop or a grocery store. Because Lisa, like many Corpus Christi residents, is choosing to “skip the plastic.”
Our hats are also off to Wind and Wave Surf Shop for offering their customers two types of reusable bags: the woven type with the Wind and Wave logo and cool nylon bags that stuff into a pouch small enough to keep in your glove compartment or purse. Beachgoers now have a choice!

February 2013 – Corpus Christi Fireman and EMT John Keller

February’s Bag Hero is Corpus Christi fireman and EMT John Keller. John was recently recognized with the Firefighter of the Year award by the Kiwanis Club for his heroic lifesaving efforts in Corpus Christi Bay
When asked about reusuable shopping bags, John says, “Whenever I buy food for the firehouse, I always use reusable bags. It’s just a habit.” He continues, “We work all over town and I see trash all over the city. I want to at least do my part to use reusable bags and hopefully the other guys at the station will give it a try.”

We salute John for setting a great example for others to follow.

January 2013 – Mayor Nelda Martinez

As Mayor Nelda Martinez says, a new year and new era have begun in Corpus Christi. She encourages everyone to bring their bags when shopping to help keep our city clean. Make it your resolution for 2013 to do your part and “Bring Your Own Bag.” It’s easy to do once you get in the habit.

One reason the Mayor likes to shop at Sprouts Farmers Market is the 5-cent discount they offer for every reusable bag that customers bring when shopping.

We applaud their efforts to encourage customers to reduce waste and become a part of the solution.

December 2012 – Ryan Chiasson, Ice Rays Player

Ryan Chiasson plays as a defenseman for the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. Originally from Ontario, Canada, Ryan has been enjoying Corpus Christi’s warm weather. When not playing or practicing, he likes to fish and relax at our local beaches.

When asked why he prefers reusable bags, Ryan said

“Plastic bags end up in the landfill and oceans. Reusable bags are clearly better for the environment.”

We would also like to recognize Target for their efforts to reduce waste and help keep our city clean. As a part of their Corporate Responsibility program, Target offers a 5-cent discount to their customers for every reusable bag they use and gives away free reusable bags on Earth Day. So far, Target’s nationwide customers have used 80 million reusable bags instead of paper or plastic ones. We think that’s a smart and sustainable way to do business.

November 2012 – Tony Amos, Local Legend & Marine Scientist

Tony Amos is the founder and director of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. Tony is a researcher and oceanographer widely recognized for his efforts to educate the public about the problems increasing human population and encroaching development pose for wildlife in our coastal area. In his work, he has witnessed the negative effects of plastic marine debris, including plastic bags, on many marine animals.

When asked why he prefers reusable bags versus single-use plastic bags, he answers:

“You have to get rid of a little bit of convenience if you want to preserve the environment.”

We commend Mr. Amos for his hard work and hope that other people will follow his great example.

October 2012 – Mayor Joe Adame

Mayor Joe Adame is the first Bag Hero!  Here is what Mayor Adame has to say about using reusable bags:

“I am so proud of our citizens who are using reusable bags and urge those who have not developed the habit to do so. It makes you feel good knowing you are becoming a good steward of the great community we live in.”