I guess it was just a matter of time. Poke the giant frequently enough and you’re going to get a swat. Over the last few years, municipalities, retailers and consumers have continued to embrace reusable shopping bags and restrict, regulate and reject plastic bags. And Big Industry responded in classic fashion, aiming at the heart of the mainstream consumer belt with a common-sense study overblown to plague-fear proportions.
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association hired two independent labs to conduct what it said was the first study of so-called eco-friendly grocery bags in North America, and found 64 per cent of them were contaminated with some level of bacteria. They went on to speculate with their own warning of ‘potential’ health problems if the reusable bags are used to carry gym clothes or diapers in addition to groceries. Here they mentioned the superbug called community-acquired MRSA (methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) Note that they didn’t find any of this mutant strain in the bags tested, as you can bet they would have trumpeted it from the rooftops if they had.
The ever-cooperative mainstream press picked up the story and ran with it, pretty much as instructed, with headlines like, “Plastics study: Reusable grocery bags dangerous“, “Study says reusable grocery bags dangerous”, and my favourite, from the creative conservatives at the National Post: “Back to plastic? Reusable grocery bags may cause food poisoning.” For an article that should have been titled ‘Study shows the importance of cleaning reusable shopping bags.”
It’s a clever ploy from the makers of single-use bags, whose products have taken a lashing of late. But I see an upside. Here’s a chance for an entrepreneur to create an eco-friendly reusable bag sanitizer/cleaner. It’s a guaranteed success. After all, if the plastics industry says we should be afraid, who are we to argue?
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