Environmental Leader on the Hidden Costs of Reusable Bagsby Jen Boynton on Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2012 ShareClick to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Fear the bag monster, not the bacteriaWe love Environmental Leader and regularly encourage our readers to vist them as an additional source of excellent sustainable business news. But we’re not sure what they were thinking today with this item on how Plastic Bag Bans ‘Present Hidden Environmental, Economic Costs’The article from the point of view of “conservative think tank” National Center for Policy Analysis, cites that same old study from the American Chemistry Council which found that reusable bags contain “dangerous levels of bacteria.” Of course, that bacteria is the same kind found on pretty much every surface and fabric, and it is killed with simple soap and water. No matter. Sadly, the threat of MRSA, no matter how distant, is enough to deter many from making the environmentally responsible choice.In case the threat of dangerous microbes isn’t enough to deter your from packing your own bag, the study presents a new mystery danger: job loss!That’s right.Anecdotal evidence suggests that curbs on plastic bags has affected commerce in the cities where [bag bans] have been enacted, according to a column by NCPA senior fellow H. Sterling Burnett on Waste & Recycling news’ web site.In the current economic conditions the use of plastic bags could save U.S. jobs, according to Burnett.Of course, the article doesn’t get into how, exactly.When you click through to the study the article was based on, the study author elaborates:The largest manufacturer of reusable bags is China, while thousands of U.S. workers are employed manufacturing plastic bags in the U.S.There’s no citation for that assertion, but even if it were true, it would be easy enough to convert those factories to reusable bag producers.There may be hidden environmental and economic costs, but pretty much everything has some of those.Although this article is from someone else’s point of view, we wonder where Environmental Leader’s editorial voice went.We welcome your thoughts![Image credit: Heal the Bay, Flickr] Jen Boynton has been the editor in chief of TriplePundit, for 8 years! With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and a degree in Sociology from Pitzer College. She spent a few years in the non-profit policy sector as well, but we won't talk about that. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with her toddler overload and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego. Follow Jen Boynton @jenboynton 4 responses Simple soap and water can’t kill bacteria. They can wash bacteria away. Which is not to say it’s not effective. This seems a bit extreme. I have been using canvas bags for years now and never had problems or washed them. Bacteria is everywhere anyway and without it life as we know it would not exist. The obsession with sterilizing everything out of existence is absurd. Super bacteria is created. As far as the jobs go. What a laugh that is. Everything these days is made in China. That’s a different issue that should not be associated with this in any way. Come on, 50 billion plastic bags a year form the US and how many are recycled. It oil based, people. It’s probably just more American whining about having to carry a bag with you. “I’m American, I can’t worry about things like that.” This stuff drives me crazy. Plastic bags are a environmental problem. Both in creating them and disposing of them. Use hemp based material and allow us to grow it and that will create more than enough jobs. Hello Jen, The title of the article is a bit misleading and if readers, don’t actually read the entire article they may think 3P is not in support of reusable bags! I am developing a Capstone model working to incentivize consumers to utilize reusables more, such a shame we have naysayers out there on such an easy subject. Arrgghh. Good point Jared. Hopefully that’s an absurdity big enough to get them to read the article :) Comments are closed.