With Edmonds bag ban, make sure to wash your reusable shopping bags

Now that Edmonds has prohibited single-use plastic bags in retail establishments, a My Edmonds News reader has alerted us to the importance of washing your reusable shopping bags.

According to Food Safety News, a joint food safety research report issued by researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University said that unwashed reusable grocery bags “can serve as a breeding ground for dangerous foodborne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health.”

The researchers randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tucson. Researchers also found consumers were almost completely unaware of the need to regularly wash their bags. “Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half the bags sampled,” said Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona environmental microbiology professor and co-author of the study. “Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags after every use.”

The report also recommends that consumers not store their bags in the trunk of their car, “because the higher temperature promotes growth of bacteria.”

  1. You are probably aware Priya that the ordinance does not specifically address the plastic garmet bags used by dry cleaners. I believe that they should be exempt since there’s no obvious alternative currently available, and dry cleaners are not retail establishments as defined by the ordinance .

  2. SO, let me understand this: the legislation meant to save out world from plastic bags did not include dry cleaning bags because the are somehow different then retail establishment bags. Hmmm…the Council did a very thorough job of thinking through this legislation. I wonder what other holes will emerge.

  3. Priya, “somehow different”? The difference is obvious. The number of dry cleaning bags used vs single use checkout bags is not in the same league.

    Dry cleaning bags do not as often end up in gutters, streams and in the brush. Many folks don’t use the dry cleaners but a few times a year. The majority of the dry cleaning bags I have received are still on the clothes in the closet until I have to go to another wedding or funeral. The legislation was clearly targeting the big offender: single use checkout bags. I am sure there are other less commonly used plastic bags that were not addressed.

  4. Pspehar,

    I am a professional woman. I dress for work almost everyday. I use the dry cleaners quite a bit. My family always has and will take canvas bags to the grocery. The law has not changed the way I behave with respect to that. However, it will not change my behavior with regard to dry cleaning bags. I will recycle them, like I do everything in my house but, so what.

    If the goal of the legislation is to protect the environment, it should have taken the dry cleaning bags into consideration. Just because you do not dry clean, does not mean everyone else does not. Just because your use is low, does not mean that everyone’s use is low. Simply evaluating how you operate does not make the evidence true to all circumstances.

    But, the bigger question is in what other way are holes left in this piece of legislation. I don’t know. I’m just asking the questions. Do you know.

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