Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags - The Next Green Trend But May Be Not The Cleanest One

I been using reusable grocery shopping bags for almost a year now, and did some observations. Probably out there someone thought about it too, but I will spill out my opinion here about reusable shopping bags. I personally absolutely love them. Sometimes I forget to bring them to the store, but that's just a bad habit I got to stop. This used to be a good habit when I lived in Europe. There were no such things as shopping plastic bags; as a matter of fact plastic bag was a novelty and been reused many times by many people. However, this may be old news now since it happened over twenty years ago.

Plastic bags have been used here in North America very commonly, but with the recent green trend everywhere, the message is clear - they must go, and stores are going to charge customers for them. Not so good for consumers of course. However, over many years we already knew that the plastic shopping bags were not good for the environment, therefore lot of manufacturers been working on the solution to produce biodegradable plastic shopping bags, bioplastics. We may not notice but some of the supermarkets carry them. However, this is not a point of this post.

The point is that because we reuse these bags, groceries we carry may contaminate them. What is the solution? Easy, wash them. But then this becomes again the green issue, more energy more natural resources consumed. If not cleaned then the potential health issues, and more health care costs associated with it. But there is always a way to do things right.

Firstly let me outline what foods can potentially contaminate the reusable bag, and let me give you simple suggestions to keep those bags clean.

The following are foods that can easily contaminate the reusable bag:

[1] Dairy Products - no matter how much care there is taken, there always will be milk, yogurt or sour cream leak.
[2] Eggs - sometimes they do break, or we do not notice the broken ones until we arrive home.
[3] Vegetables - there are many of us out there just grabbing broccoli or cabbage without bagging them.
[4] Fruit - yes many times I do grab a watermelon without slipping a produce bag on it, but face it some of them just don't fit.
[5] Meat - those packages are not leak proof, a worst contamination you could get, especially from the poultry.
[6] Chemicals - all kinds of cleaning products may cross contaminate with food, as we never really know which bag we use for what.

Here are my suggestions to keep your reusable bag clean.

[1] Get a reusable bag that is more synthetic plastic surface. That way it can be wiped easily with a soap water or vinegar.
[2] Now many stores sell reusable bags, then buy different ones and dedicate them for different food categories. For example, this bag for dairy products, this for cleaning products.
[3] Always bag your fruits and vegetables in thin plastic bags usually located in the produce area. For anything big as watermelon, may be get a carton box to carry it, or just get a grocery bin.
[4] And as stated in three, you can always get the grocery bin which is much easier to clean. Note canvas bags may be worst for contamination.

Lastly I think that charging for plastic bags by stores is a real cash grabs. It would be nice if that money was dedicated to further green developments or given to charitable organizations. After all they used to be free. What do you think?


  1. Very interesting and loved the way you are helping to preserve the environment. Your observations ans suggestions are excellent.

  2. Rajesh, thank you so much for your nice comment. Anna :)


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