WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday to ban the use of single-use plastic bags at large grocery stores by July 2015. The ban will expand to smaller stores later.
California is the first state to sign a bill that bans the use of plastic bags statewide. The idea is to address the problem of litter, since plastic bags are commonly found on streets, parks, and on the side of roads. In this same bill to ban single-use plastic bags, businesses will be allowed to charge 10-cent fees for customers using paper bags. As a result, many California residents could be turning to use reusable bags.
Shoppers here in western Massachusetts told 22News about why they do or don’t use reusable bags.
Angela Phillips of Feeding Hills says, “I do not like recycling the plastic bags and I think it’s a waste, and I think that if you have reusable bags, you should probably use them.”
Other residents say using reusable bags can be inconvenient. “Usually I’m bringing kids with me or coming from other places, so they’re usually at home because I put them away after at home, so the bags get left there,” says Deanna Barnes of West Springfield.
But even though reusable bags are best for the environment, they require maintenance that many shoppers overlook. If the bags aren’t cleaned, they can cause bacteria and yeast to grow, or lead to cross-contamination of foods.
There are three key words shoppers need to remember about their reusable bags: separate, clean, and store.
- When you shop, separate your foods, such as meats, produce, and other items to prevent cross-contamination. You can label bags to avoid any confusion.
- Wash your bags after every use, and you can refer to the label on the bag to see how to wash it. If they are insulated, wipe the inside with a disinfecting cloth.
- When you are done cleaning your bags, store them in a dry and cool environment, where air can circulate through the bags.
Separating, cleaning, and storing your reusable bags properly will help maintain their shape and cleanliness, which will in turn will help keep your food fresh and keep the environment clean.