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Reusable Bags Reduce Plastic, Promote Recycling, Poison Food?

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Eggs are an important source of protein and part of a healthy diet. But then there are those ongoing pesky threats of widespread salmonella contamination.

Corn ethanol fuel is a green, renewable energy, isn't it? Maybe, but it uses way too much energy to produce.

So what about reusable shopping bags? They prevent tons of plastic from entering the environment every year, so there can’t possibly be a problem there, right?

Wrong. And there’s one word that sums up why: lead.

Bet you thought we were going to say they’re bacteria traps, right? Well, yeah, there’s that, too, but despite those charges, reusable bags have maintained popularity. However now the New York Times is reporting that eco-friendly bags can carry other environmental risks as well.

Reports are coming in from around the country about bags primarily made in China, and they suggest that some contain potentially unsafe levels of lead. The offending bags were identified at several stores, including some CVS pharmacies. In September, Wegman’s grocery chain recalled thousands of its bags, made of recycled plastic.

Though there is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public, recent studies (not conducted by the government) found that the lead in some bags would pose a long-term risk of seeping into groundwater after the bags were disposed of. In addition, over time, paint from the bags could flake off and come into contact with food.

“There’s always something wrong with everything,” said alternative energy consultant Barry Lebost as he stood outside the Trader Joe’s on West 72nd Street in New York with four reusable bags full of groceries. “It may not be a total solution, but this is a step in the right direction.”

But one Fairway shopper named Catherine Paykin has a fairly elegant solution to using reusable bags that may render at least the groundwater-contamination issue moot: “I wasn’t planning on throwing it out… As long as I use it and don’t throw it away, that will be my plan.”

(No word yet on her plan to not accidentally get lead poisoning.)
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