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Yes, Reusable Bags are Safe!

November 14, 2011

The Cat's [Not] Outta the BagThere’s no shortage of reasons to bring a reusable bag to the grocery store, instead of ending up with single-use paper or plastic bags. [See a great report by the folks at Chico Bag.] Paper and plastic are wasteful, from their creation – cutting down trees, importing oil – to their disposal, usually in a landfill or worse. Bringing your own bag is a terrific way to reduce that waste.

But one study made headlines last summer, finding that reusable bags, even though they’re great for the environment, could contain bacteria or lead. Should we ditch those hippy-dippy bags once and for all, and go back to good old plastic?

Not so fast.  Remember, there are sea turtles at stake! A few common-sense steps make your reusable bags A-OK.

  • The best bags are the ones that last. A nice cloth bag can replace thousands of plastic bags – but not if it breaks after 20 uses! Look for quality, just like you do when buying clothes.
  • Don’t use your grocery bags for gross stuff, like your gym clothes or leaky meat products. (Or if you do, don’t also use them for fresh food, like fruits and veggies.)
  • And, like your fridge or anything else that stores food, your bags need to be washed every once in a while. Drop ‘em in the washer on gentle, and hang up to dry.

Hey, that was easy! You’re welcome, sea turtles.

P.S. Want to dig a little deeper? A Rolling Stone story from July looks into the lobbying and marketing strategies of the plastic-bag industry. We were disappointed that they stooped so low.

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