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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 04 April 2012
in Earth Blog

Remember to Wash Your Bags!

As more towns pass ordinances banning plastic bags, shoppers not in the habit of bringing their ownwashing machine reusable bags are scrambling to buy a few when they happen to remember. Some are simply going to take their business elsewhere- to neighboring towns where laws don’t prohibit stores from handing out plastic bags. The restrictions might cause inconvenience, which results in sighing and eye-rolling but communities are catching on to the idea of the bans quickly.

What isn’t a habit yet for people who currently use the canvas bags is laundering them regularly. 

According to a new survey by the Home Food Safety program only fifteen percent or less than one in six  Americans who have the re-usable bag wash them.  So while they are merrily carrying their bags their bags are happily carrying germs and bacteria.

"Cross-contamination occurs when juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects come in contact with cooked or ready-to-eat foods like breads or produce," said Ruth Frechman a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Nutrition and Dietetics Academy, a collaborator on the survey along with ConAgra Foods. "Unwashed grocery bags are lingering with bacteria which can easily contaminate your foods."

Forty-eight million Americans are affected each year by food poisoning caused by salmonella, listeria and E. coli. These foodborne pathogens are likely found on the re-usable totes and is one of the primary concerns raised when bag bans are fought in city council meetings.

The unsanitary conditions of bags sometimes brought into Starr Market was noted in a letter to the Ojai City Council as a reason to reconsider passing their recent ordinance. The letter mentioned that bags had been brought into their store by customers and placed on the conveyor belt, where everyone puts their food, only to leave behind cat hair and other detritus. 

Thankfully, the solution to this and other problems with the cleanliness of bags is easy.  Cashiers at grocery stores are often seen wiping down the conveyor belt in between customers. They also ask if they can place your meats in a plastic bag if you haven’t done so in the meat aisle. Cities haven’t banned the produce bags that provide this barrier.

Now if you own bags wash them either by hand or in the machine with hot water and soap. Wipe down the surfaces in your home where you place the bags when unloading them. 

Frechman also suggests having a set of totes specifically designated for meats and the others for the rest of your shopping. She doesn’t think you should leave  the empty bags in the trunk of your car either. That must be because the dark and hot space must encourage bacteria growth or maybe because they will never get washed if they live in your trunk and not in your house. Store your bags in a dry and clean place preferably off the floor to lessen the chance of dirt or your cat from getting in your bags.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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