Southern California environment news and trends

Keeping your reusable shopping bags bacteria-free

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David McNew/Getty Images

California has become quite the battleground for single-use plastic bags. Just this week, Solana Beach became the first city in San Diego County to ban their use in grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers.

While there are factions adamantly fighting to keep plastic bags in circulation (most notably the Plastic Bag Coalition), many Californians — especially the enlightened minds who read “Pacific Swell” — have already made the switch to reusable shopping bags. The Huffington Post, however, reminds us that simply having a supply of tote bags at the ready is not enough. It’s just as important to keep them clean.

The Post goes on to roll out some sobering statistics, like a recent study revealing that only 15 percent of North Americans routinely wash their reusable bags. The story further emphasizes the point with a 2010 report that found E. coli bacteria in 12 percent of randomly tested tote bags across three cities, including Los Angeles. More than half of the bags tested positive for coliform bacteria, which you don’t want anywhere near your food. Trust me.


Target giving away 1.5 million reusable bags for Earth Day

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Mr. T in DC/Flickr

Target is more than just one of America’s largest retailers. As far back as when the Minnesota-based company was known as Dayton-Hudson, the retailer has made a point to celebrate Earth Day. Back in the early ‘70s, stores handed out little trees to shoppers to mark the day. In 1992, celebrities like Leonard Nimoy, Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Olivia Newton-John took part in a Los Angeles “Earth Walk” with Target team members.

This year, Target stores will commemorate Earth Day by handing out 1.5 million reusable (and very stylish) shopping bags. Target will also continue to provide customers with a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag per transaction.

"Earth Day is the perfect time to remind guests that a small change can make a big difference in reducing waste, saving money and driving sustainable choices in their community," said Shawn Gensch, Target’s senior vice president of marketing in a press release. "At Target, we are pleased to do our part by making these choices easier for our guests."