Plastic grocery bags may harm the planet. Paper grocery bags deplete the forests. Reusable grocery bags may contain lead and also cause illness from germs and cross contamination.
Los Angeles became the largest US city to ban the use of plastic
grocery bags, along with four dozen other California municipalities.
Every county in Hawaii also prohibits them. Austin goes them one
better and passed one of the broadest bag laws in the nation,
agreeing to ban disposable paper and plastic bags starting in March
2013 in favor of reusable bags.
Reusable grocery bags carry E. coli germs along with a variety of
other bacteria and some bags contain seven times the lead limit of
many states. According to one study, Grocery shoppers must us their
reusable bags 131 times to see the environmental benefits touted by
global warming zealots. To be safe, reusable bags need to be washed
and preferably bleached to prevent cross contamination, especially
bags that transport meat, fish, fresh vegetables, or fruit.
Another source of potentially dangerous infectious comes from the
checker scanning foods over the same surface of the scanner that
everyone else's food passes over.
Many people reuse plastic bags for garbage, pet cleanup,
transporting wet clothing, etc., so not using them causes these
people to buy plastic garbage bags, which helps defeat the purpose
of bag bans.
Lower priced reusable bags found in stores are either plastic
themselves or made from 100% non-woven polypropylene. In
2010, a study found that over half are contaminated with bacteria,
some even with E. coli, because 97 percent of shoppers say they
never wash their totes.
Wash counters and cabinets where bags are stored and never let them
rest on the floor, because they pick up germs from food packaging,
shopping carts, car trunks, etc. Some suggest putting reusable bags
in a microwave for a minute or two after each use to sanitize them.
An average family of four would need to keep at least a dozen or
more bags for a normal shopping trip.