Cities and localities all over the country have been trying to clean up their environments by limiting the number of plastic shopping bags that are given out at stores and pharmacies. The goal has been to get shoppers into the habit of using cloth shopping bags instead.
In some locations, such as in Washington, DC, these efforts has been met with a decent amount of success. In that region of the country, they started charging shoppers five cents for a plastic shopping bag. The result was that less plastic bags were clogging the Anacostia River and more people were buying the cloth shopping bags offered by the grocery stores and pharmacies for about $1. They were also being kept from filling up landfills and the like, where they can site forever.
There were some intended consequences of the move from plastic bags to the reusable bags. WRALandnbsp;is reporting that people who were using the cloth shopping bags faced health risks. The problem is that when people put certain items in the bags, such as meat and chicken, juices from those items will leak into the cloth and then contaminate the food the next time the bag is used.
The problem could be solved by washing the reusable bad after it is used but most people do not do that. In fact, some research shows that only 3% of shoppers go to the trouble of washing the cloth shopping bags after a trip to the grocery store. This can mean that dangerous bacteria can get people sick.
Now a company that is based in Triangle is working on ways to make those cloth shopping bags and custom insulated bags safer and healthier so that people will nor go back to the disposable plastic ones that do so much environmental damage.
Russ Greenfield, medical director of Cary-based Purthread Technologies, said, “The concern is actually a significant number of reusable grocery bags have been tested and found to actually have significant growth of organisms that can be dangerous to us.”
There are a wide array of dangerous bacteria that cab lurk in the bags. They say these can include salmonella, e-coli, the bacteria staph and a host of viruses. Experts say that the cloth shopping bags provide these organisms with a very good environment where they can grow and thrive.
Now Purthread Technologies thinks it has a way to help. They have developed a yarn that prevents those dangerous bugs from settling into the cloth shopping bags.
Greenfield said, “We have silver actually melted into, embedded into the fiber. Silver is actually cidal to most of these organisms, meaning it actually kills (them).”
Fibers with silver have been in other clothing to prevent infection, which success in hospital clothing, lab coats and even athletic wear.
Greenfield worked with the Loma Linda University on a four month study of the fabric. They took the bags with the special fabric and some without and put them both in hot cars. After two hours there was bacteria in each but not as much in the cloth shopping bags with the special fabric.
Greenfield says a four-month study at Loma Linda University compared reusable grocery bags left in hot car to Purthread bags in the same conditions.
Greenfield said, “The bags actually contained them within two hours – contained the growth of those organisms within two hours.”
The new bags do need some washing from time to time.
Greenfield said,”This is one unique technology that taken together with regular washing, washing our hands, things like that, may help control the spread of diseases that really can be quite problematic.”
Greenfield’s company’s plan is to now find a way to get the cloth shopping bags wholesale into stores and customer’s hands around the nation.
There are other reasons to wash your hands and bag after going grocery stores. Studies have shown that 72% of shopping carts have some unsavory things on them and up to 50% have been found to have E. coli on them. There are also hand wipes at most grocery stores around the nation. They will kill any bacteria on the chopping cart or the shopping basket.