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What You Need to Know About Reusable Shopping Bags

Dominic Lopez 2016-07-04 08:00:00

As many jurisdictions across Canada impose bans or fees on plastic bags, consumers are reacting by using reusable shopping bags in order to save money or help protect the environment. Some businesses even give you a discount if you take advantage of reusable shopping bags.

Despite the overwhelming positives and benefits of using reusable shopping bags, there are some critics who scoff at the notion of taking a reusable shopping bag to the supermarket, convenience store or Dollarama. Some refer to the germs that engulf a reusable shopping bag, while others say it's always difficult to remember taking one with you on the go.

Both qualms are simple to remedy. It takes just a little bit of reminding and some extra time. However, the concerns about reusable shopping bags have garnered the attention of even the federal government, which posted a series of tips to keep in mind when using these bags.

What should you know when using reusable shopping bags? Here are five things:


(1) Regularly Wash the Bags

Did you know that you can wash the bags in a washing machine? Yep, it's true! Many didn't realize this so now they've started to come across salmonella and other bacteria in their food. So, every couple of weeks, grab those reusable shopping bags and throw them in the washer. Or, if you don't want to use a machine, then you can hand wash them with soap, and then let it air dry.


(2) Keep the Bags in Convenient Spots

A common complaint about reusable shopping bags is that people tend to forget them. No sweat. All you have to do is keep them in convenient spots so you can remember to take them to the store. Here are several things to remind you to take your reusable shopping bags with you:

  • Always keep your reusable shopping bags in the car or at your front door.
  • Have a large inventory of reusable shopping bags in your home or vehicle.
  • Write in "bags" when you start to create your grocery list.
  • Don't be ashamed to tell the cashier that you left your bags in the car (be sure to run).
  • Once you've put away the groceries, return the bags to the convenient spot.

These tips will help ensure that you won't have to pay for plastic bags ever again.


(3) Have Separate Bags for Separate Items

In order to avoid the risk of contamination, you should always have separate reusable shopping bags for separate items. For instance, you should have one bag for your meats and one bag for your vegetables. This way, if your meat juice should spill in the bag, it won't affect your celery, carrots or onions. The same idea can be classified for cans, boxes and fruit.


(4) Clean Spots Where the Bags Touched

Once your bags touch a specific part of the kitchen, whether it's on the floor or on the counter, you should immediately clean this area. By doing this, you, once again, avoid contamination and unnecessary bacteria. This is especially important if there has been some spills from the meat.


(5) Replace Your Bags Once in a While

Reusable shopping bags won't last you an entire lifetime. They aren't infallible. No matter how many times you clean them, they will eventually fall apart. Simply put: you should definitely replace your bags once in a while. Here are two tricks to identify if they need replacing: holes or if they have a terrible odour.

What's great about reusable shopping bags is that they are durable and can carry a lot of weight. This is an area that plastic shopping bags fail at (ever use No Frills grocery bags?), and so right away reusable shopping bags should be attractive. As more and more jurisdictions across Canada, and around the world, start to impose bag bans or taxes, reusable shopping bags will become more in use. You just have to know how to handle them.


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