Tuesday, July 6, 2010

washing the grocery bags


Ken bought a newspaper over the weekend and he pointed out an article about reusable grocery bags. The article said that researchers tested the reusable bags of random shoppers outside a store and found bacteria in most of the bags. The article suggested that when we carry home meats and certain produce in the bags bacteria can be left behind.

It was a good reminder to me to wash my bags more often but the article had a sensationalistic tone that I didn't appreciate. I'm sure a lot of people will read that and just settle even more firmly into their routine of getting one-use plastic bags from their grocery store every time. My mom said they were making a big deal about it on the TV news as well.

Washing the bags is such a simple and common sense solution! And I'm pretty darn confident that even with less-frequent washing, I've never gotten sick from my bags. I love my Envirosax bags in particular--they are going strong even after nearly 3 years and are highly washable. How about you? Have you been scared off from reusable shopping bags?

16 comments:

Andrea said...

Ha! What nonsense the media won't come up with in lieu of actual news (aren't there a couple of wars and an unstoppable fountain of oil in the ocean we should be worrying about?). They also fail to point out that there are bacterial on every surface of the world, including in our intestines, and that 99.9% of them are good for us or benign. I occassionally shake the loose onion skins out of the bottom of my bags, and wash them when they get really bad, but I'm pretty sure they haven't killed me yet. I even stick my bread and produce straight in the cloth bags at the farmer's market to avoid bringing home any more plastic!

Rhia said...

Hello,
Longtime lurker and seldom poster.
That study surfaced in Canada a little while ago - the interesting thing about it is that when you read the fine print, it was funded by plastic bag manufacturers... so aside from the funny way they went about measuring things, the results aren't that reliable.
In any case, washing the bags is certainly no bad idea.
Thanks for writing, I really enjoy reading.

vincent said...

I am getting ready to go pick up my little one from the local "cultural center" here in town from the childrens summer series, but I just had to tell you how much I LOVE your blog... You are actually probably my favorite. Thank you so much for sharing and giving others so much enjoyment/information! Have a wonderful day!

jen said...

i read that article too... and threw my bags in the wash! just a good reminder for us :) it actually got me wanting to make more bags!

6512 and growing said...

It actually never occurred to me to wash those bags that hold so much of our edibles. whoops! (unless there's a big honey spill). Thanks for the reminder!

Denise C. said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE using my reusable grocery bags! I have several sturdy cloth ones, and a few made from recycled materials (I got those at my local grocery store.) I've washed my bags maybe 3, or 4 times over the past few years. No one in my family has ever gotten sick from something in the bag. I will not use plastic bags anymore. You have such pretty bags!

Rachel said...

I think Andrea hit the nail right on the head. There is bacteria everywhere, probably even in an brand new plastic bag from the supermarket. As long as you use your common sense and practice good food hygiene then I really don't think there is anything to worry about.

nicole said...

ah, media. arg. the joy of reusable bags is that you CAN wash them.

Mary Beth said...

Oh good, it looks like the comments are working again, at least somewhat. Yes, Andrea and Rhia both shed a lot of light on this! So true that bacteria are everywhere. I've never been a clean freak and it has worked out fine. The only time we ever got a significant food borne illness it was clearly from a restaurant.

sarah said...

i love my envirosaxs as well. you have some lovely colors. i definitely need to get more. especially when we keep leaving the library with too many books to carry!!!

lovestitches said...

My boyfriend told me about this recently which made me pause - we've never washed ours. They aren't fabric, they are that eco-cloth stuff that would fall apart in the wash. We've never been sick and we don't put our meat in with anything else so I'm not panicking.
Yours do look pretty hanging up to dry though.

Alicen said...

I haven't washed mine in a while either. Should do that :) I have some of the plasticy recycled material ones that look like they won't wash very well. However, Sobeys stores here in Canada have a lifetime guarantee on their bags so if they don't survive the wash or otherwise start to fall apart I just take them back and get new ones.

Hannah said...

I read a similar article about this and it does make sense but the way it was sensationalised was a bit silly!
A few of our reuseable bags just wouldn't hold up to the boil washes that the article talked about. It's made me think more carefully about which ones to use.

Nancy said...

I had a good laugh when I first heard about this...stuff and nonsense! It should be filed away with the article about the disgusting stuff on the bottom of women's purses. I'm sure a normal washing is a still good idea--after all, that's part of the point of reusable! ;)

Nicola (Which Name?) said...

I have been using cloth bags my entire life. I grew up in hippie Berkeley and it would take a lot to scare me away from cloth. That said, I appreciate the reminder to wash my bags. I have a couple of Envirosax in the mix, too, and like them. They tuck away so compactly, as well. Mine were a stocking stuffer from someone else, to put that in the hopper as a gift idea.
Nicola

Mrs4444 said...

Not at all. I wash everything we eat, so there's no worries there, even if the story is true.