Letters to the Editor

Find another solution other than reusable bags | Letter

Letter to the editor - Reporter file art
Letter to the editor
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I have been reading, with interest, about the discussion on the banning of plastic bags in Kirkland and have been impressed by the research presented to support this argument. However, the solution of reusable bags has not received very close scrutiny. The validity of the argument that reusable bags are the eco-friendly solution depends upon how many times the bag is used before it is discarded. A study from the United Kingdom found that shoppers must use a reusable bag 131 times in order to see environmental benefits. Real-world data, however, does show that these bags are actually harming the environment.

Another problem with reusable bags is the fact that they are cesspools for bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella. This is the result of the cross contamination that occurs when raw meats and unwashed fruits and vegetables are placed in the bag with such other grocery items as yogurt and bakery goods. This problem can be minimized by washing the bag in hot water and bleach after each use, but a poll conducted by the researchers from the University of Arizona revealed that 97 percent of the shoppers never washed or bleached their bags. It should be noted that washing these bags in hot water and bleach uses energy.

A further problem with reusable bags was discovered by the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom. They released lab results that showed many of the major retailers' reusable bags contained excessive levels of lead, that is in amounts in excess of 100 parts per million (ppm). Some of the bags contained levels that were almost seven times this limit. CVS is the only retailer that has recalled its bags for this problem.

A side effect of the plastic bag bans has been the substantial increase in shoplifting. According to Jan Gee, president of the Washington Food Industry, one in five Seattle businesses have stated that the increased shoplifting due to the plastic bag ban is a problem. Store owners report that people walk into stores, hide items in their reusable bags and walk out. The problem is determining what comes into the store concealed in the bag versus what goes out. The problem of increased shoplifting is prevalent in all cities nationwide that have adopted plastic bag bans.

Since the global warming alarmists want to ban plastic bags and common sense points to the banning of the solution - reusable bags - the question becomes "What should be used ?"

Costco has found the answer. The cardboard boxes that the goods were shipped to the store in originally. Cardboard boxes were used by the grocery stores almost exclusively in the 1950s and the customer always had many uses for them after they were brought home. These boxes can be used to pack gently-used clothes and toys given to charities, for moving, for weed control in the garden or they can be flattened and placed in the recycler.

I hope that the city of Kirkland doesn't knee-jerk and jump on the plastic bag ban bandwagon without really thinking it through. The idea of a five-cent fee for a disposable bag is not going to help Kirkland's businesses. Kirkland should take measures to encourage people to shop in Kirkland, not drive the customers to Bothell, Woodinville or Redmond.

Laurel D. Lupton, Kirkland

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