Reusable Bags: Best Practice for Using Your Bags and Keeping Them Clean - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 22, 2020

Reusable Bags: Best Practice for Using Your Bags and Keeping Them Clean

Reusable bags are great - they are durable and can make your life a lot easier when hauling groceries from checkout lane to cart to car trunk - or, if you live in a city - the walk home. The use of reusable bags also benefits the environment by reducing plastic waste brought on by single-use plastic bags often found in grocery stores, businesses and retailers.

Starting on March 1, 2020 New York State is enacting a new waste reduction law that will prohibit single-use plastic bags across the state (with a few exceptions). While much attention has been placed on grocery stores, the rule also applies to small businesses and retailers. If an establishment collects sales tax - then they will be prohibited from distributing single-use plastic bags for transporting purchased goods. New York is the third state to enact the ban, following California and Hawaii.

Because our home state of New York is enacting this ban, we’re going to see a rise in the amount of reusable bags being used. And while - as we already said - we know they’re great, there are a few things to be mindful of when using reusable bags to transport your groceries.

The number one concern when it comes to reusable bags is food safety. Recent studies have shown that it’s common for E Coli - a fecal bacteria that can make you sick - to dwell in reusable shopping bags. To combat against lurking germs, it’s important to wash and disinfect your bags frequently. Check out some of our tips for cleaning different types of reusable bags below:

Tips for Keeping Your Reusable Bags Clean
       Canvas bags: These are super easy to clean! Just toss them in the washing machine. If you’re using them to transport meat and fish, toss them in the wash as soon as you get home from the store.
       Insulated totes: You’re probably using insulated shopping bags to transport cold items such as meat, frozen foods and veggies, which makes it really important to keep germs under control. Clean your insulated bags by wiping them down with disinfectant wipes.
       Recycled plastic & nylon bags:  Hand wash nylon bags and bags made from recycled plastic with warm, soapy water and hang them to dry.
       Wash your reusable bags frequently! No matter what your bags are made of, it’s important to wash them often - especially if you are using them to transport groceries. 

As important as it is to clean your reusable bags, there are also ways to mitigate germs and keep contamination at bay right from the get go.

Tips for Using Your Reusable Bags and Preventing Contamination
       Designate! Designate different bags for different purposes. This will prevent cross-contamination of food. For example, you may want to consider designating one bag specifically for meat, poultry and fish and another for fruits and veggies.
       Label. After you designate your bags for different purposes, make your life (and the cashier’s life) even easier by labeling your bags. You can use a label maker to mark your bags or even supplement with some masking tape and a permanent marker.
       Don’t mix food and play. If you have reusable bags for groceries, then use them just for groceries. Reduce contamination risk by avoiding using your grocery bags to transport gym equipment, books or sporting gear.

While the switch from plastic to reusable bags may be daunting for some, with a little preparation and know-how, you’ll be able to master the change with ease and keep your bags and groceries safe from germs and contamination.

If embracing the reusable bag lifestyle has you feeling inspired to tackle more eco-friendly habits, click on the button below.