SHOPPING BAGS: NON-WOVEN REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS? MAYBE NOT.
by Cindy Chen
Non-woven shopping bags
They’re everywhere these days. Just a few evenings ago, attending a state organized function, heaps of bright non-woven reusable bags are being distributed to the crowd. The young ladies behind me were even calling out “eh, ‘dik, bagilebih” (hey kid, give me more).
I rejected at the time thinking I’ve got plenty already. And after reading some articles today. I am glad I did.
It has been reported just late last year that, out of survey 71 non-woven polypropylene bags sold by various grocery chains, 21 had dangerous levels of lead content, the highest being 194ppm. Studies in the past have shown that there is no safe level. Exposure to lead may have detrimental impact on children’s health affecting cognitive ability and behavior as well fertility problems in adults.
While the report was done in the US, I would be on the side of caution even here in Malaysia.
If you are concerned about using these bags, here are some things you could do to stay safer.
-Avoid bags with elaborate illustrations or large photographs.
- Handwash bags, not with other clothes, and dry them in open air.
While some quarters that may or may not have funded the research advocates usage and recycling of plastic bags instead, I think I’ll explore other options (and they are inthe order of my personal preference). Reason? That’s another story.
i) Grandma’s bags – these are all inherited bags I already have at home. Stuff sewn from cut up old clothes, cloth odds and ends etc. Or even just my ‘everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sling bag’ that I lug around daily.
ii) Used boxes – these are boxes that the shops have after the goods inside have been emptied out. Send them for recycling when you’re done.
iii) Woven baskets – natural forest produce baskets woven by local artisans. Support the local crafts industry!
iv) Cotton bags – Bags purpose made as reusable bags. Look for responsibly made ones – e.g. organic, fairly paid artisans. Take good care of them and use them a whole lot more than 173 times to make it worth the carbon footprint.
v) Paper bags & biodegradable bags– if provided by the store, and not having absolutely any other options.
i) Excessive Amounts of Lead Found In Major Reusable Grocery Bags Supplied by Major Retailers, http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/h/4368-excessive-amounts-of-lead-found-in-reusable-grocery-bags-supplied-by-major-
ii) Studies Show Danger of Even Small Amounts of Lead in Children’s Blood, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/08/health/la-he-lead-20100308
iii) Analytical results for metals: Reusable Grocery Bags, http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/1117bagtests.pdf