Skip to comments.Ban Bags, Get Sick
Posted on 10/14/2009 7:59:52 AM PDT by CWCoopEdited on 10/14/2009 8:06:30 AM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
Most everyone supports a clean environment. But many environmentalists fail to recognize the need for balance.
One of the latest examples of environmental extremism is the campaign to punish or even ban the use of plastic bags. The Philadelphia City Council has turned down a proposal to ban plastic bags, but proponents promise to try again. A bill pending before the state legislature would outlaw plastic bags statewide.
Paragraphs are nice..
Ban Bags, Get Sick
Most everyone supports a clean environment. But many environmentalists fail to recognize the need for balance. One of the latest examples of environmental extremism is the campaign to punish or even ban the use of plastic bags.
The Philadelphia City Council has turned down a proposal to ban plastic bags, but proponents promise to try again. A bill pending before the state legislature would outlaw plastic bags statewide.
We all have come to rely on the ubiquitous shopping bag. How else would we get our purchases home?
The very fact that so many people use bags has caused some environmentalists to target them. The state of California is considering taxing plastic bags. A few cities even have banned them.
Of course, most environmentalists dont expect people to carry their groceries home in their pockets. But some activists, backed by the paper bag industry, are trying to force consumers to use paper sacks.
Yet people commonly reuse plastic bags as everything from trash holders to pooper scoopers. Plastic bags also require less energy to make.
Paper sacks take up far more room in the trash than do plastic bags. And in todays airtight landfills, paper bags dont degrade. So some environmentalists are pushing cloth bags instead.
Yet plastic bags are eco-friendly as well as convenient. California has initiated a recycling program for plastic bags, reducing their environmental impact.
In contrast, cloth bags are expensivefew retailers give them away. Moreover, one or two arent enough for the average family, especially for grocery shopping. The cost adds up.
If you forget to bring them with you, or make an impromptu stop, youve got nothing to hold your purchases.
Worse, cloth bags turn out to be a convenient home to bacteria, mold, yeast, and even fecal matter.
A new study by three independent labs found significant contamination of reusable cloth bags. Richard Summerbell, director of research at Sporometrics, Inc., warned that the main risk is food poisoning.
However, there could be other consequences. Summerbell explained that significant risks include skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections.
The study collected bags from shoppers for testing. Nearly two-thirds of the bags suffered from some contamination. Roughly one-third had contamination levels higher than considered safe.
Both mold and yeast were found in roughly one-fifth of the bags. A few even had intestinal bacteria, not something anyone would want to ingest. The website www.nastysack.com headlined its report on the study: Paper, Plastic or Feces?
The only good news was that no E. coli or Salmonella was found. Nevertheless, warned the study: forms of E. coli associated with severe disease could be present in small but a significant portion of the bags if sufficient numbers were tested and it is consistent with everything that is known about Salmonella ecology that it would also be present on rare occasions.
Summerbell said he wasnt surprised by the results. Moisture turns cloth bags into a culture for contamination. Summerbell explained: a damp, folded cloth bag with food contamination is an active microbial habitat and a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, mold and coliforms.
In contrast, the study found no contamination of the plastic bags checked.
Some consumers make the problem worse by using cloth bags for other contaminated products, such as diapers and workout clothes. And the problem doesnt stop with the owner of the bag.
The report warned that contaminants could be transferred from bag to bag at a grocery check-out as material from the surfaces gets onto the hands of the check-out staff. Moreover, airborne mold spores could harm check-out clerks. Indeed, the study added: grocery store staff remarked to the investigators that they found some reusable bags remarkably soiled in appearance and were reluctant to touch them.
The obvious solution is to wash the bags. But there are many things that we should doand dont. People often forget or procrastinate.
Moreover, warns the report: Reusable bags can in principle be cleaned, but drying them out thoroughly is problematical and their flimsy nature deters scrubbing that would remove organic deposits. Any imperfect cleaning would tend to add water to completely removed food material and thus inadvertently boost microbial growth.
We all have a stake in a cleaner environment. And a healthier one. Plastic bags turn out to be not only eco-friendly but also safer than reusable cloth bags. Government should leave people free to choose the bags which they believe best meet their needs.
Philadelphias City Council made the right decision in voting against a plastic bag ban. Protecting the environment is important, but both plastic and paper bags have their virtues. Government should let the rest of us decide which is best.
James Broussard is the Chairman at Citizens Against Higher Taxes. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Area.
Hm. Hadn’t thought of this before, but it does make sense that carrying fresh meat and produce could contaminate the bag. At the least you’d want to put fresh meat in a plastic bag before you put it in your cloth bag, and you’d still have to be careful. Fresh produce often has dirt on it.
LOL... maybe they should just ban my poor attempt to POST something!! Ha, ha.
My eyes are bleeding.
How did America do so well for so long without radical liberal crap like this???
Thank you for the interesting post. What are solutions? Launder cloth bags after each use? What does that do as far as use of extra water, detergents in the watershed?
You can click ‘Report Abuse’ on yourself (you won’t grow hair on your palms), and the mods will give you a Mulligan.
Just how are petroleum based plastic bags eco-friendly if they are not bio-degradable?
What ever happened to the bio-degradable plastic made from corn oil? Too expensive?
These people are truly insane.
Thanks. Proves what I’ve thought about those bags all along.
Also, what to do about the kid seat on grocery carts? Kids sit on them, poo the pants on them, get their icky slobber all over them and who knows what all. Then we come along and put our fresh lettuce on the seat.
Don’t know if it is true but I’ve been told that paper bags can be breeding grounds for cockroaches.
All of the grocery stores in my area offer anti-bacterial wipes now. I always use them for the seat and the handle.
Well, if you want to reduce wastage of plastic bags (a very laudable objective) you could try what Tesco does in the UK. They provide plastic bags no problem, but if you bring your own (even if they are not Tesco’s bags) they effectively knock a penny off your bill per bag you reuse. That cuts wastage, saves the customer some money, saves Tesco having to buy so many bags - win situation all round.
Carrots work better than sticks.
A wipe is a start, but it doesn’t get down into the crevices. I’ve been thinking of taking a can of Lysol but they’ll probably claim it’s their can and make me pay for it again.
I was thinking the same thing. Of course the anti-aerosol people will then ask for a ban on the cans too.
Sam’s Club and Aldis do not even offer bags, although either may have boxes available when you need them. When we do our larger shoppings at these stores every 6 weeks or so, we have a large cooler, a large insulated bag and a medium sized empty cardboard box already in the vehicle. We unload into these containers directly from the cart. It works out fine. Cleaning products and paper products just go into the car in their own packaging. Not a problem.
We wash the cooler and insulated plastic bag out with soap and water and dry completely between trips. No one has become ill when we do this.
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