Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is just as much a part of me as living a healthy lifestyle is, and I often think that the two are very much related. While we may all feel differently about how our actions are affecting the planet, I think we can all agree that conserving resources and reducing waste are good steps for everyone. And many things that are good for the planet are great for your body, like walking or biking more, avoiding the harsh chemicals found foods or beauty products, or growing your own food.
One of the first changes many of us have made already was to purchase reusable grocery totes to limit single-use plastic and paper bags from the grocery store. Simple, easy, good for the planet—good all around, right? Well, a recent report found that these bags, while eco-friendly, might be bad for your health.
I love using my reusable bags. I even have bumper stickers on my car that say BYOB (bags, that is!), so I took note when I saw a news story linking reusable bags to public health risk.
Researchers from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University tested the reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in three major cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tucson. They found E. coli in half the bags sampled, some at levels significant enough to cause health problems, even death. They also found that 97% of the shoppers interviewed had never washed or sanitized their totes, even though, according to co-author Charles Gerba, Ph.D., washing them would kill nearly all bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags.
I guess this doesn't completely surprise me, but I admit that it's something I've never really thought about before. While it's definitely something to cause concern, I don't think we need to swear off our use of these bags completely. In fact, researchers offered four tips in the article to reduce your risk of illness when using reusable bags.
Do you use reusable bags when grocery shopping? If so, do you usually sanitize them? Will this research affect your bag-toting habits?
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