Are You Washing your Resuable Grocery Totes?


Reusable grocery bags seem to have become the norm these days, particularly in San Francisco. In October 2012, San Francisco issued a checkout bag ordinance which not only required all retailers to switch from plastic to paper bags, but also required retailers to charge a fee of $.10 per bag. While this seemed to bother some people initially, San Francisco residents have learned to embrace the change and pack their reusable grocery totes on their way to the store or suffer the $0.10 consequence.

Supporters of this ordinance claimed that paper bags are more environmentally friendly and that the $0.10 fee would encourage people to start carrying reusable bags. What supporters may not have thought about were the potentially harmful health effects of reusable totes. A study published in 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania and George Mason University discovered that the plastic bag ban may be directly related to the increase in San Francisco emergency room visits due to E. Coli infections and food born illness in the months after the ban was enforced (yikes!).

Moral of the story? Make sure you are regularly washing your grocery totes! While I think the ban is beneficial to our environment longterm,  some shoppers may not realize the potential health risks of reusable totes, hence this blog post :). I will admit the thought of washing my reusable bags did not even cross my mind until I read some of these articles and you better believe I threw my bags directly into the washing machine!

Below are three tips to keep you safe AND environmentally friendly:

1. Wash bags regularly– Make sure you wash your reusable totes at least once a week. This will not only keep you safe from E. Coli and other food born illnesses, but will also save you from the unsanitary dirt and grime from your commute (particularly for you city bus people like myself). Make this part of your Sunday laundry routine!

2. Separate grocery items – Try to keep your produce separate from your meat and fish products to avoid cross contamination.

3. Let your bags air out– Letting your bags air out in a cool climate will help prevent other bacteria from growing in hot temperatures.

Photo Credit:

Photo By <a target=’_blank’ href=’’>Martha Merry</a> via <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>

Is Reusing Your Gym Water Bottle Dangerous to Your Health?


Are you one of those people who constantly reuse the same water bottle when going to the gym? If you just answered yes to this question, you may want to read on to discover how potentially dangerous this can be to your health.

I am all for reusing water bottles to save our environment, but it is important you are making sure to sterilize them after every use. You may think one or two days of reusing the same water bottle is not big deal, but tests done by the Coffey Laboratories in northeast Portland discovered that a water bottle used only a couple days of week (without washing) contained a shocking 4,100 bacteria colonies!

A similar study, analyzed at the University of New South Wales,  found back wash to be a main contributor to bacterial build up in reused, unwashed water bottles. They also discovered that people who share water bottles could be spreading a common food poisoning bacteria known as staphylococcus. Too much consumption of this bacteria can potentially make you very sick.

Another study conducted at Calgary elementary school, brought to light an even more shocking discovery. Researchers found that about a third of the sampled water bottles contained bacteria content. Some of them even contained traces of fecal coliforms! The bacteria content found in the water bottles most likely came from the students forgetting  to wash their hands, and repeatedly coming in contact with their unsterilized water bottles.

Hopefully these studies have now convinced you to not only wash your water bottles in warm water and mild detergent after every use, but also to think twice before sharing your water bottle with a friend. Read more about these studies on the following sites:


Photo Credit:

Photo By <a target=’_blank’ href=’’>liz west</a> via <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>