If you’re the proud owner of a reusable shopping bag, first off, I would like to commend you. And secondly, I have some news for you:
On Tuesday, the Canadian health department released a statement reminding citizens about the importance of cleaning their reusable shopping bags. The statement stated that if the bags are not washed thoroughly or just simply reused, cross-contamination could cause foodborne illnesses.
Failing to properly clean your reusable shopping bag could result
in cross-contamination between produce and meats. Be careful.
Photo by thegreenpages/Courtesy Flickr
The health department pointed out that despite these risks, it still supports using reusable shopping bags. They were right to do so. There are many perks to embracing this trend.
Plastic bag production uses non-renewable resources like petroleum and natural gas. Also, it is estimated that only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide, leaving the other 99 percent to rot away in landfills, where they can take up to 1,000 years to fully degrade. Even when people do recycle, this process still emits heavy metals into the atmosphere, which causes more pollution in the air we breathe in each day.
Reusable bags save more than 700 bags over the span of their lifetime, so it’s important to keep using them. Here are some tips the Canadian health department included in their statement about how to wash your reusable shopping bag at home:
• When using cloth bags, make sure to wash them frequently, especially after carrying fresh produce, meat, poultry or fish.
• Reusable grocery bags may not all be machine washable. If you are using this type of grocery bag, you should make sure to wash them by hand frequently with hot soapy water. Plastic bins should be washed using hot soapy water on a regular basis as well. It is also important that you dry your grocery bags and bins after washing.
• Put your fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish in separate bins or bags from fresh produce and other ready-to-eat foods.
• Putting your fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry or fish in plastic bags (the clear bags found in the produce and some meat sections work well) will help prevent the juices from leaking out and contaminating your reusable containers and other foods. Fresh produce should also always be put in plastic bags to help protect them from contamination.
• If you are using your grocery bags or bins to store or transport non-food items, they should be thoroughly washed before using them for groceries.
Most grocery stores offer reusable bags to purchase at a relatively low price. For more information about why you should hop on the reusable shopping bag bandwagon or to purchase your very own reusable shopping bag, visit www.reuseit.com.