Not long ago, June of 2010, a study came out that terrified a lot of consumers. The study said that reusable bags were riddled with bacteria. What was an eco-conscious consumer to do? At a minimum, wash those bags. Some people thought that another answer would be to stop pesky legislation to ban the plastic bag; after all, plastic bags couldn’t sicken us with E. Coli. Some folks flat out wrote to stop using reusable bags.
Well, it turns out that study was maybe not the best example of the scientific method. It was also not a great example of passing along results of a study. Picking and choosing facts and then misrepresenting those facts is, well, not a very honest thing to do. The American Chemistry Council funded and then reported the study. The ACC is desperately trying to block legislation to ban plastic bags.
This re-post on Bag Monster is brilliant! I wish I had been the one to research and write this piece. I have to confess; I was one of the lazy bloggers out there that posted a blog about the study without calling up a biologist first. Bad Green Girl, very bad. I hang my head in blogger shame.
I didn’t get crazed and panicked in my blog. I suggested ways to sanitize reusable bags. I also suggested color coding your bags as an extra precaution. This does not let me off the hook, but it is better than screaming “Stop using reusable bags or you will die!”
So, this is all old news now. The post is over four months old. Why am I writing this? Because the misinformation from that study by the ACC is still making the rounds.
Should you wash your reusable bags? Yes, I do think that is a good idea. Should you stop using reusable bags out of concern for safety? No, a big fat no to that question. Should you switch to reusable bags from plastic bags? Yes! What are you waiting for? Do it already! Sorry, I sometimes can’t help myself. Ahem, yes please, do switch to reusable bags.
One word of advice. Don’t buy cheap bags. Make a small investment in some quality bags that you can reuse and reuse and reuse and then wash and wash and wash. I see good reusable bags everywhere, including my favorite local stores. The online selection is astounding and in a dizzying array of colors and patterns. You can use these bags to make a statement about yourself, not just a statement that you care about reducing plastic use.