March 15, 2013

M.D. Harmon: New Puritans finding more ways to make others miserable

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Not only was the problem miniscule, the plastic-bag industry supports 30,000 jobs that a widespread ban would put at risk.

Most interesting of all, cloth bags can be hazardous to our health. As the column reported, "In a 2011 study, four researchers examined reusable bags in California and Arizona and found that 51 percent of them contained coliform bacteria. ... Seventy-five percent of (users) said they keep meat and vegetables in the same bag. When bags were stored in hot trunks for two hours, the bacteria grew tenfold."

And there's more: "That study also found, happily, that washing the bags eliminated 99.9 percent of the bacteria. It undercut even that good news, though, by finding that 97 percent of people reported they never wash their bags."

Other studies found food-borne illness and death rates growing in cities that banned plastic bags, or revealed that the environmental impact from making enough cloth bags for everyone to use and then washing and drying them all weekly would be higher than that of producing plastic bags.

But mandating cloth bags would make the New Puritans feel better about themselves, and that's what really counts. Isn't it?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:


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