Too many decisions are made with questionable–or worse, self-serving–data. Even worse, they are made for us rather than by us.
In Washington, DC there is a five cent charge for each plastic bag you use at the store. I, like almost everyone else, am tired of seeing those bags stuck in trees, fences, etc. My family recycles about 95 percent of the plastic bags we receive, including the ones in which the newspaper is delivered. The other five percent are repurposed as litter bags, to wrap shoes before they go into the luggage, and for many years, to separate one string of Christmas lights from the others when the season was done.
The idea, I guess, is to use reusable bags, which require energy and raw materials (look–there goes the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) and reusable bags have microbes delivered by the fresh fruit and vegetables. The microbes that remain in the bag have nothing better to do that to wait for the next shopping trip. Drop in an orange or two, a banana, and some grapes and the microbes are off on a reproductive orgy.
So, the answer, apparently, is to wash the reusable bags, but water is also a precious commodity in short supply. Is washing reusable grocery bags more ecologically sound than single-use bags that can be recycled?
I’ve yet to see definitive data on any of this to guide me in my decision. However, I do believe that there is a segment of the population who will discard the plastic bag, along with the various wrappers, skins, or bones of the initial contents inappropriately (i.e. on the ground somewhere outside the store).
They say you can’t legislate morality. Likewise you can’t make stupidity or callousness punishable acts. The people who care, will continue to care. The people who don’t, won’t.
In the meantime, can someone show me the data thata will tell me the magic combination for carrying groceries home?