Considering the problems previously notes, are reusable bags the answer? They are made of strong, durable material such as canvas. Reusing them reduces landfill waste and the energy consumed during production, transportation, and recycling. Almost perfect, right? Not completely! For example, a leak from a meat package collecting in the canvas fibers may provide a safe haven for bacterial growth, especially when left in a warm car. In May 2012, a girls’ soccer team in Beaverton, Ore., was sickened by a norovirus traced to their contaminated, reusable team snack bag. Ensuring safety will required special care of reusable bags.
What Should We Do?
To check out regulations in your area, search online for the “National Conference of State Legislatures” and “plastic bag legislation.” Soon, scientific research may come to our rescue. The GreenDiamond bag company has developed a process using chitin from discarded crab shells to make their bags microbial resistant. They advertise "the only triclosan-free, antimicrobial reusable shopping bag." In the meantime, read more on recycling in the article titled “It’s Not Easy Being Green… Or Is It?” on p. 12 of the print issue.