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May 27, 2009

A new health threat: Eco-friendly bags

Chicago Tribune 5.27.09

Your eco-friendly shopping bag could be making you sick, a study says. But before you switch back to plastic, you might want to consider the source.

An overly alarming 15-page paper, published on the Web site for Canada's Environment and Plastics Industry Council, concluded that reusable grocery bags are "a breeding ground for bacteria and pose a public health risk" because of high counts of yeast, molds and bacteria. Download the study here.

Our Take:
  What a joke! The plastics industry just won't stop twisting science and sounding false-alarms to justify our plastic addiction. A great level-headed article from the Tribune that turns a critical eye towards this campaign of misinformation, which many journalists simply regurgitate (one of the inflammatory articles we saw on this industry-funded study was titled "Reusable Grocery Bags May Poison You" - no joke).
 
Common sense practices like washing your reusable bag and using plastic when worried about leakage can reduce contaminants. When you're choosing a reusable shopping bag, avoid the cheap ones and steer towards high quality, durable bags that withstand washing. In countries like Australia and Ireland, reusable bags have once again become a part of daily life and they haven't experienced any of these health concerns.

Link: A new health threat: Eco-friendly bags

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Comments

what a joke! it's no suprise that they are pulling out all the stops that they can. what do they want us to do bury ourselfs in trash? its common sense that when something gets dirty you wash it. otherwise we would be throwing out a lot of our household goods because of the fear they might be germy. I think its wonderful that seattle, WA is trying to ban plastic bags they are a blight. here in Michigan I wince every time I see a plastic bag that has become trapped in a tree or in the underbrush along the roadside. I even had one blow into a tree in my own backyard, enough said!!!

You know, there is such a thing as washing your reusable grocery bag. It doesn't have to remain dirty. Jeez.

The really crazy thing is that some people actually believe these bogus studies. I guess they have never heard of a washing machine. So they must buy a new shirt everyday? It will take some time to change habits, but when people know the truth it seems so obvious. My Mom sews reusable totes and she always forgets to take hers to the market. It just takes a little time... Great article and even better website.

I cannot believe the levels that these companies have stooped to. This is the dumbest thing I have heard in a very long time. It does not take a rocket science to figure out that you have to wash your REUSABLE bag. They are really grasping at straws now.

You get 75 plastic bags to the lb. or about 6 grams each. You get about 7 paper bags per lb. at 67 grams each plus contribute to deforestation and massive water/air pollution. The reusable bags (made of plastic nonwoven fibers) weigh so much that you must use them 15 to 20 times before you break even with disposable bags. That means 15 wash cycles before you are equal in net carbon emissions, energy cost, etc. by plastic bag weight. Does that sound environmentally correct? Do you know how much energy it takes to do 15 wash cycles. 40% of my household power bill is washing/drying from electric hot water to everything else(chemicals).

Plastic disposable bags are the most sound environmental method available to take groceries home safely with the least impact. That is why "Environmentalists" that oppose plastic bags fight to prevent an Environmental Impact Study. An EIS shows that. Plastic bags remelt right back into pellets for new bags, also called recycling. Oh by the way, The Ireland experiment mentioned above led to a significant increase in plastic bag tonnage shipped to landfills. The "free" 6 gram grocery bags are reused as household trash bags. Take them away and customers must now buy heavier/larger plastic trash bags. The plastic bag industry really made a bundle on that "environmental" law. Extra shifts, employee hiring, profits, etc. up 70-200% depending on company.

Really? Are you implying that people are so stupid that they would come home from the grocery store, put away their groceries and then immediately do a load of bags-only laundry? Maybe I'm just some kind of environmental genius, but I just throw my bags in with my weekly load of laundry that I have to do ANYWAY. It's weird, I have to wash my clothes every week because I wear them and they touch things and get germs on them. Maybe I should just start throwing my clothes away every day instead. Oh wait, I mean recycling them. Yes, because recycling is the answer, not cutting consumption in the first place. Duh.

This study is about as ridiculous as the commercials on TV now by the corn lobby that tells us that high fructose corn syrup isn't bad for us.

Seriously, I think most of us would agree that the use of a plastic bag to wrap up a package of raw meat is a plastic bag well used. Prior to using high quality reusable bags I wrapped meat, and it's a practice I continue to use. But I'm not going to let the plastics industry tell me that I'm taking a health risk by using a reusable bag. Seriously, they're in the plastics industry, not the medical field. The people who are supposedly getting sick are most likely the people who don't take food safety seriously....meaning they would have still gotten sick regardless of the kind of bag they used.

Just try to figure out which is worse for the environment, paper bags or plastic bags. It isn't possible. Every group publishes their own study and makes up their own data. I haven't found a single study that is peer reviewed or contains enough data to replicate their findings. The U.S. govt. report that is standard use for journalists is 23 years old. I think it's about time they look into the bag issue again.

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