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In the Portland is Pretty Awesome category today, Mayor Sam Adams is proposing to



(Note: There are some semi-disturbing wildlife-and-plastic images at that link.)

Years ago, Portland banned the use of polystyrene foam packaging. It was hugely controversial at the time, and now it's not even noteworthy--though it seems very odd to go to another city and get coffee in Styrofoam.

So I think a ban on single-use plastic bags (the grocery-store kind) is a terrific idea. I stopped accepting them a couple of years ago, during Project Empty, and before I started shopping by bike I was pretty assiduous about reusable cloth bags. (Now I have awesome bike-baskets.)

I don't really see a downside, the way the city ordinance is proposed: long lead time, stores must charge a nickel for paper bags (which they keep--it's not a tax), lots of education, programs to make reusable bags available to people who can't afford to buy them. It seems well thought out to me, and pretty damn ballsy at a time when it would just be easier to hug the status quo.

The Gulf oil spill makes a plastic bag ban seem especially timely, though it's long overdue. I was charged for shopping bags when I lived in France 25 years ago. I think America can handle it.

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