Excuse Me, You Have Something in your Bag (Naked Apartments post)
Happy Monday! I am currently on 3 hours of sleep right now after an INCREDIBLE Phish weekend, so there is NO way my 3 remaining brain cells are going to function to help me write something witty and clever. So here’s a post I wrote at Naked Apartments last week. Enjoy!
Reusable shopping bags, once the sole accessory of the environmentally conscious have now become mainstream. New Yorkers, lacking the back seat of cars to fill, are notorious for carrying a plethora of bags around with them at all times(I lovingly call myself “The Bag Lady”). So I begin offering kudos to all of us for being trendy and saving the planet at the same time!
An interesting problem has seem to have um, grown (pun intended), due to our repeated daily use of reusable totes. Back in May, a microbiological study done in North America found that our eco-friendly bags are the harbingers of ridiculously high amounts of bacteria, yeast, mold, and coliforms (pathogenic bacteria that can cause food poisoning). Yuck…and scary!
That being said, let us look at the day in the life of your reusable tote, shall we?
Your bag is filled with gym clothes in the morning for your post-work gym session. You bring it on the subway, and rest it on the subway car floor because it’s too heavy and cumbersome to hold. From here it sits on the ground at work and then in a locker room at the gym. You head to the supermarket after your workout to pick up produce and meat for dinner, drop it in your tote, and head home. Congratulations! Your bag has come into contact with every dirty surface possible in the city (and god knows there are a lot of them) and then got filled with unwashed fruits, vegetables, and possibly leaking meat. Let’s not forget your dirty clothes, which are mixed in as well. (Bet you $100 bucks you don’t wash your tote bag when you get home for the next day. Yeah, didn’t think so.)
In the same microbiological study I mentioned earlier, researchers found the 64% of reusable bags were contaminated with bacteria and 30% had bacteria counts higher than what is considered safe for drinking water. Also, 40% of bags had yeast or mold and dangerously high amounts of coliforms, aka fecal intestinal bacteria. The amount should be zero.
Experts suggest that you keep totes for your gym clothes and your groceries separate, and also wash your bags as frequently as possible. You can bet mine went straight to the wash with hot water after I read this study, reported in the The National Post.
So what’s the moral of the story? While being trendy and carrying an environmentally friendly tote is both a fashionable and green “DO,” lugging billions of unnecessary and harmful bacteria with you is a serious DON’T. Food poisoning and illness don’t look good on anyone. So be careful!