What to do When Your Grocery Store Says “No Thanks” to Your Reusable Bag
Using your own reusable bag at the grocery store is a less wasteful practice that many Americans have adopted to reduce the use of plastic bags. However, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, reusable bags are being shunned at some grocery stores over concerns that these bags could potentially introduce COVID-19 to their stores, employees and other shoppers. While there is little to substantiate this concern¹, here are some tips to continue protecting the planet and each other:
- Bag your own groceries. Some grocers have indicated that if shoppers want to use a reusable bag, they’ll need to bag their own purchases². Sounds easy enough.
- Wash your reusable bag after each use. Even though we’re all making a concerted effort to stay home, necessities call. If your grocery store says it’s okay to bring your reusable bag, it’s important to make sure it’s properly cleaned and disinfected between uses. Fabric bags can be washed and dried in the laundry². Vinyl-type bags can be sprayed or wiped with a disinfecting cloth or solution (soap and warm water works too) and then let the bag thoroughly dry before using again. Even when things are normal, this is something you should always be doing.
- Keep it in the trunk. You can skip a bag in the store all together and just use the cart to take your items to your car. Once there, load your items directly from the cart to your reusable bag stored in the trunk.
- Go for paper bags. If a reusable bag option won’t work, opt for paper versus plastic bags at the store. Paper is more readily recyclable in your curbside recycling bin (if it’s clean and dry). Plastic bags are recyclable, too – just not in your curbside bin.
Remembering these tips will help you navigate the grocery store during this unprecedented time.
The Importance of Washing Your Reusable Bag. Some research studies indicate about 50% of reusable bags contain large quantities of bacteria and many even contain E. Coli and fecal matter. This number is a great incentive to keeping that reusable bag super clean.