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How long will it take before single-use, non-recyclable plastic grocery bags are banned or abandoned in favor of more ecologically-friendly options?

Bravo to Fairview Mayor Ted Tosterud and representatives of Wood Village and Troutdale who are at least talking about the possibility of banning single-use plastic grocery bags.

This is a no-brainer. The time to make this a regional mandate has long since come and gone.

The city of Portland banned these bags back in 2013. While we in East Multnomah County should never feel compelled to mimic every initiative that comes out of Portland, in this case, the weirdos from Oregon's biggest city did the right thing.

   Single-use plastic grocery bags will always wind up mistakenly placed in recycling bins, meaning some poor sap will need to remove each one by hand, lest they clog the machinery. Or they take up space in regional landfills, a testament to our wasteful throw-away society. Or, worse yet, they get hung up in trees, lingering in branches like ugly leaves that refuse to let go each autumn. And some of these bags will float on the wind until they find their way into rivers and streams, and eventually the ocean.

We can do better ... we should do better.

Though Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale haven't taken formal action to ban single-use plastic grocery bags, we hope that's where this process ends. A recent gathering of representatives of the three towns produced a majority opinion that a ban should move forward.

Everyone knows that grocery outlets already offer paper bags as an alternative, so this wouldn't cause seizures at grocery locations. Plus, there are plenty of options available for reusable bags.

What's surprising is that some local municipalities remain disinterested in jumping on this bandwagon — namely, Gresham and Sandy.

Neither city has actually said no to banning these plastics bags. In Gresham, the subject hasn't been identified as a council goal, so it's not likely to get much attention. In Sandy, the topic was raised once by Mayor Bill King, though it never came back around as a formal agenda item.

What's really interesting is that Tosterud of Fairview is almost certainly the oldest mayor of towns in East Multnomah County and Sandy, and probably wouldn't be the one we would expect to take the lead on an issue of sustainability. So good for him.

We're encouraged by the progress that's been made with Tosterud in the lead. Perhaps with Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale making a bold statement, Gresham and Sandy won't be far behind. Who knows?

In the meantime, we're hopeful that the end result will be a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags in Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale. It's a good idea.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Read the July 2013 Portland Tribune editorial on the topic of banning plastic grocery bags in Portland.

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