The newest fad: The Reusable bag .
Reusable bags are being greatly pushed against the single use plastic bag and people seem to be latching on to the concept. It sounds like a good enough idea, and with all the design options you can really expressive yourself, but is the reusable bag really risk free? Just like many new products there may be some drawbacks that weren’t discovered before becomingso popular and “savior-esque.” The Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona and the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University conducted a study called the Assessment of the Potential for Cross Contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags. Now I am going to brief you on the results of this study!
So what is “Cross contamination” ?
Cross contamination occurs when disease-causing microorganisms are transferred from one food to another.
The assessment was divided into 3 Phases
1. Determine the occurrence of bacteria and bacteria of health concern in reusable shopping bags
2. Determine the potential for microbial cross-contamination in reusable shopping bags
3. Evaluate and recommend the washing/bleaching procedures necessary to decontaminate reusable shopping bags
They started off by collecting bags from consumers entering grocery stores in the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and Tucson, Arizona. 84 bags total were collected, 25 from LA, 25 from San Francisco and 34 from Tucson. All but 4 of these bags were woven polypropylene (a little softer than polyester which is what a typical plastic bottle is made out of.) Each bag owner was interviewed on bag usage, storage, and cleaning procedures. (4 unused reusable bags were also purchased and tested)
And the Results are in…
Large numbers of bacteria were found in all but 1 bag & coliform bacteria in half.
E-Coli was identified in 12% of the bags & a wide range of enteric bacteria & pathogens.
After meat juices were added to bags & stored in car s for 2 hours, bacteria increased 10-fold.
How to Clean your bags?
Hand or machine washing was found to reduce the bacteria in bags by >99.9%. So if you clean your bag after every separate use, you should be good! (Don’t forget to think of the water and energy that adds up over time)
What were the bag owners habits?
Cleaned bag at home?
Days bags were used in a Week?
49% 1 day
22% 2 days
18% 3 days
3% 4 days
2% 5 days
3% 6 days
3% 7 days
Bag used Soley for Groceries?
Other uses of Bag?
57% Other Shopping
5% Biking Supplies
Separate Bags for Meats & Vegetables?
Transport in Car?
Stored at home?
As you are learning these bags get pretty filthy and are brought back into stores, which is proven to be not at all sanitary. So if reusable bag users do not make the continuous effort to keep their bags clean maybe this isn’t the cleanest solution to the single-use plastic bag problem, why not explore another option like using Earth friendly biodegradable and recyclable plastic instead, Like ENSO?
Take a few min to read the rest of the assessment it’s definitely worth your time!