I just read a neat story on the Huffington Post that listed reasons why you should use a reusable bag when shopping for groceries. So, naturally, here are my reasons why not to use reusable bags when shopping for groceries.
Yes, it is trendy to use these bags, and you get to feel smug like people did when the Toyota Prius just came out, but while you are “saving the earth,” you might be damaging your health and indirectly hurting others as well.
The story in the Huff Post laid out its facts on the dangers of plastic bags, but if people will not even properly dispose of plastic bags, it is highly unlikely that they would give proper maintenance to their reusable bags.
The article states that it takes 15 to 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose. Well, it takes a whole lot less time for the leftover bits of food in the reusable bag to decompose. At any given time, a bagger in a grocery story can open up one of those bags and unleash a vile smell within it. As the bagger holds his breath and tries to fill the bag with 90 little cans of cat food, he will likely be trying his best to work around the disgusting mold inside the bag.
A joint study conducted by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in California found that 97 percent of people interviewed said they never washed their reusable bags. Be honest with yourself reusable bag users, do you wash your bag?
So, do you want to know what’s growing in there? According to the study, it’s likely E. coli and other bacteria. They found that over half of the bags they studied had some form of bacteria growing in it.
Do you like leaving your bags in your car so that they are ready for you when you hit the market? Well the research found that there was E. coli in 25 percent of the bags collected from Los Angeles, the reason being was the warm weather. So while the bags sit in the hot trunk of your car, there could be a little something growing in there.
While you’re saving the earth from the horrors of plastic bags, most, if not all of these bags come from China, Bangladesh, or India. Do you know what that means? That means your bags are being imported, and unless it is being imported by an eco-friendly commercial vehicle, it is emitting greenhouse gasses for miles upon miles before these planet saving bags make their way to the U.S.
Let’s get down to the grimy specifics. If we break down some of the most popular bags used when grocery shopping you’d be surprised by its damage.
First off, jute bags and canvas bags are one of the most popular bags seen around grocery stores near you. Jute and canvas bags can affect you directly as the jute and cotton plants are usually grown with high levels of pesticides. So unless you know that your bag was made organically, it’s possible that there are still remnants of pesticides in the bag. Doesn’t that sound like a great place to put your celery and broccoli?
If that’s not bad enough, the Daily Star has an interesting article on how middlemen take advantage of the jute crop growers and sell the jute for double, leaving the farmers with little profit, if any.
At this point, not only are you supporting a possible health hazard, if you take a glance at the article linked above, you are likely supporting an injustice that can easily be a human rights issue.
So, where does that leave us? It feels like a lose-lose situation. Your local supermarket is pushing to save every penny it can (I mean, pushing to help save the planet) by eliminating a product that endangers our ecosystem, and is replacing it with something that could be equally harmful.
Even if you want to call "B.S." on the importing issue, or the crop grower issue, doesn't the lack of responsibility on our part, whether it is plastic or reusable, bother you at all?
How do we really know if we’re helping? I guess that is a Mega Million dollar question.