Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Plug for the Non-ecofriendly Plastic Bags?

The article on Canoe about the risks of reusable grocery bags caught my attention। I have long complained about having to pay at Superstore for the reusable bags simply because I forgot to bring one of the twenty I already own। I understand that people are trying to cut down on waste, but I think there are uses for your good ol' plastic bag. The article also holds a number of ironies. The article begins:

The growing popularity of reusable grocery bags could pose a health risk to Canadians by increasing their exposure to dangerous bacteria...Forty per cent of the reusable bags tested had yeast or mould, and some had detectable levels of coliforms and fecal intestinal bacteria

The bags create this problem mainly because of the possible spillage from meats or eggs which can cause food poisoning। an easy and viable solution would be to wash the bags - if that can be done - but, many people do not see the possibility contamination from the cloth bags. Naturally, before an argument for not eliminating plastic bags can be made, I feel I need to address the irony found in the article.

First of all, the study which determined that "64 per cent of them (the bags) were contaminated with some level of bacteria" was done by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. Naturally the association would not want to condemn plastic bags.

Furthermore, the vice-president of Loblaw (a grocery company) argues that the studies' point is moot:
"Perishable items are put in plastic bags or other types of wrap packaging prior to being placed into the reusable bag, providing minimal opportunity for contamination of the bag."

He does have a point; however, the use of gratuitous plastic on packaging is another contributor to the landfills. One contributor which environmentalists do not seem to be concerning themselves with is the excess packaging on many products. In my estimation, the over wrapping of other items - with the exclusion of items such as meat which need to be sealed - is as much of a problem as plastic bags. My family and I reuse plastic bags for different things. Here is a small list, gathered from my own usage and from the website listed below.

1. Garbage bag liners
2. For disposing of cat and dog feces
3. Use them in lieu of plastic gloves or a shower cap
4. Use them as packing material in lieu of the dreaded white foam peanut
5. Use them to store wet beach towels in
6. Use them as you would a rubber glove when you don't have rubber gloves handy

(4-6 taken from here)

In addition, stores such as Wal-Mart have started placing bins for bag recycling outside their stores. That to me is a good idea. To conclude, I think plastic bags have their uses. They shouldn't just be done away with. The full article is worth the read.

Full Article at Canoe

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