Reusable grocery bags are a common site these days.  They are easily accessible and generally inexpensive, being sold at most grocery and retail stores near the check-out counters or various strategic locations throughout the store.  This article does not dispute the benefit of reusable grocery bags, but does point out that not all reusable bags are created equal and that some care is required in the use of these bags.

Reusable bags are typically made out of heavy duty plastics, cotton, canvas, or synthetic fibers.  It depends on the production process, but generally the primary advantage to the bag is that it is reusable – that in effect you are recycling it with each use.

An issue that is not highlighted much is the care and washing of these bags – they are going to get dirty and they are going to get germs and bacteria in them.  Consider that many of these bags remain in your trunk, which during the summer is potentially a warm haven for germs and bacteria.  Although they may cost a bit more up front, sturdier canvas or cotton bags, in plain colors (without logos and advertising), may be a good choice in terms of holding up through washings and multiple uses.

From an eco-friendly perspective, reusable shopping bags are preferred to single use bags (such as the paper or plastic available at stores).  However, if you find yourself without your reusables and in need of a bag, remember that single use bags are easily recycled as trash bags or bin liners, among other various uses.  Not to mention, many stores offer recycle or take back programs.

Still, it is worth adjusting to reusable bags now (if you haven’t already) and finding the ones that work best for you, as the trend of moving away from (and even banning) single use bags continues to gain momentum across the nation.  A handful of cities have banned single use plastic bags while others are charging customers on a per-bag usage.

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