While the movement to go green promotes an eco-consciousness that will create a sustainable environment, many champions of the new ecology toting reusable shopping bags, appear to miss a salient point: stay clean when you go green. According to a recent study at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University, researchers found 97 percent of environmentally-aware shoppers using woven polypropylene bags to tote their groceries from the store were not cleaning their bags after use.
What’s In Your Bag?
Besides mixing meats and vegetables, the reusable bags were also used for snacks, books, and miscellaneous items, and because of this “all purpose use” had gathered a plethora of germs. Consequently, the study suggested, these bags were a possible causative factor in a number of food-borne illnesses in the United States.
Here is what the study found: In a test of 84 bags, 50 % contained coliform, a bacteria associated with raw meat and 12 % harboured e-coli, a bacteria known to cause serious food poisoning.
Stay Green, But Keep It Clean
Reusable bags are not the culprit, but a prevailing ignorance about the mechanism of food cross-contamination. By using the bag for raw meats and for fruits and vegetables, either during the same shopping trip or on separate occasions, the bags become bacteria-laden and contaminate food.
Although the study has shocked many well-intentioned people, as well as legislators in California and other states who are debating a plastic bag tax and a ban on plastic bags, it’s actually very easy to stay green and clean at the same time.
6 Simple Tips To Stay Green
Instead of going back to an excessive consumption of plastic and paper bags provided by grocery stores, here are 6 tips to staying green and clean:
1. Wash reusable bags after each visit to the store. It is a good idea to wash your reusable bags inside-out in a warm cycle while doing laundry.
2. Purchase an extra set of reusable shopping bags. It is always a good idea to shop with clean reusable bags while the other set of reusable bags are scheduled for the laundry.
3. Either mark your reusable bags or purchase different color reusable bags for meats and vegetables.
4. Unload the reusable bags as soon as you get home from the grocery instead of later.
5. Do not store reusable bags in the hot car between visits to the grocery store. If you are concerned about not having reusable bags handy when you need them, then schedule your shopping days and remember to add reusable shopping bags to your grocery list. That way you do not forget reusable bags prior to heading to the grocery store.
6. Do not leave your groceries in your car for a long time after you purchase them. It is recommended to go straight home after leaving the grocery store and to unload your meats and vegetables.
These 6 tips can easily be turned into habits that can help you stay eco-conscious and healthy at the same time.