The Gross Ways That Plastic-Bag Bans Backfire
Reusable bags are home to all kinds of germs: Ramesh Ponnuru
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 5, 2013 11:45 AM CST
Are reusable shopping bags causing more problems than they're solving?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Environmental concerns have spurred plastic bag bans or fees in US cities ranging from Los Angeles to Washington—but these measures come with "unintended consequences" that "can be, among other things, kind of gross," writes Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg. It seems that reusable shopping bags can carry some rather unpleasant germs; one reportedly "caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Indeed, researchers found that 51% of reusable bags in a 2011 study were infested with coliform bacteria. And while washing bags gets rid of most of the germs, some 97% of people said they never do so. Another study showed that E. coli-related ER visits increased in San Francisco following the ban, while deaths from food-borne diseases jumped 46%. Given that washing the bags "doesn't appear likely to happen," Ponnuru notes, "the best course for government ... is probably to encourage people to recycle their plastic bags—or, maybe, just let people make their own decisions." Click for Ponnuru's full column.

My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
The Gross Ways That Plastic-Bag Bans Backfire is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 90 comments
Feb 16, 2013 2:18 PM CST
Paper bags use trees. I have no car, and if it rains or snows, plastic will hold where paper won't. Fabric bags are more difficult to pack and carry, and they will keep the germs. The old Euro net bags did not protect the food from the elements. When I was in Beijing, I had to pay more for the plastic bags. That is unfortunate. But looking at today's headlines on air quality in Beijing, one sees how well it cares for the environment. ALLOW FREE PLASTIC BAGS. It will be safer for everyone.
Feb 9, 2013 8:26 AM CST
I use the cloth bags because it is easier for me to carry the groceries up the stairs to my kitchen. I tell the grocery packer not to make the bags too heavy. I still use the grocery plastic bags for my cats litter. Every few weeks I ask the checkout person if I can have a bunch of the plastic bags and they always say that I can. I tell them that they are for my kitty litter. Once they said that they sell kitty litter plastic bags but I told them that these were free.
Feb 8, 2013 11:19 AM CST
Isn't it interesting that whenever liberals and the government get involved, something worse occurs? Noticed that the one person said "let people make their own choices" but then again that's anathama for a liberal. Ponnuru notes, "the best course for government ... is probably to encourage people to recycle their plastic bags—or, maybe, just let people make their own decisions. Now that's a new thought. Course there isn't anything the liberals won't take control over. Just like the electric cars, where now we have batteries that won't work in the cold, are expensive as all get out to recycle, and billions of government dollars wasted on something we said wasn't going to work. If it did work, don't you think the public would have adapted on its own without force?