I recently saw a UPI article about Lead Found in Some Reusable Bags that were offered from grocery and retail stores.

"The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) released new lab results showing that a number of major retailers’ reusable shopping bags contained excessive levels of lead. Of the 44 organizations whose bags were tested, 16 are selling or distributing reusable bags containing lead in amounts greater than 100 ppm (parts per million), which is where many states set the limit for heavy metals in packaging."
Why the worry?

Because longterm interaction with large quantities of lead cause problems. In children it can bring about learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and even brain damage. And adults can be affected as well by symptoms ranging from weakness to fatigue and paralysis, gastrointestinal diseases, high blood pressure, and a host of nervous system ailments.

Since the limit is 100 ppm, what bags where the bad ones? First, the test was on only, polypropylene (non woven) bags made in China. I refer to them as "the stiff bags" when I see them. But many times they are cheaper to pick up a handful of them than 1 or two canvas bags, that I prefer.

Here are the top 10 bags with the highest lead count:
1. CVS (green bag) that has recently been recalled - 697 ppm
2. Safeway/ Organics - 672 ppm
3./5. University of Oregon (picture of football field, green and brown) - 554 ppm / 353 ppm
4. Giant Eagle (brown bag with red reduce, recycle, reuse) - 523 ppm
6. Bloom (black and purple bag) 349 ppm
7. Stater Bros.  - 309 ppm
8. Walgreens - 298 ppm
9. KTA Super Stores - 285 ppm
10. Staples (eco-easy) - 277 ppm

Other retailers testing positive for excessive levels of lead included Staples, Giant Eagle, Piggly Wiggly, Giant, Gerbes, KTA Superstore, Brookshire Brothers, Stater Bros., and, ironically, the District of Columbia Department of Environment.
The reason I liked canvas reusable bags was that I could wash them for longer and sew them up if they started to fall apart. That way my investment of 3 -7 dollars per bag was had more value than a 99 cent, "stiff bag".

With the law of banning plastic bags popping up in cities here and there, now if definitely a good time to get into the habit of bringing AND using the bags at the store.

Despite the led, there are good ones out there and other positives ways to using reusable bags still.
**Save Money - Some stores offer 5-15 cents off per bag brought in, even if you don't use them all.
**Easier on the Hands - The handles on many reusable bags are wider than plastic bags, softer and more durable for carrying long distances.
** Customize Them - Don't get yours mixed up with someone else's and make your own T-shirt reusable bags. (youtube video)
** Double Duty -Not just used for grocery shopping, handy for carrying library books, Halloween candy, swimming gear, a catch all in the car, and a lunch sack.

Of course this will cut down on the bags you use for your trashcans around the house or putting newspapers in for the recycling, but what did we use before plastic bags? But if you are like me, I occasionally forget the reusable bags in the car and have to bring home a few plastic ones still.

What are your thoughts on reusable bags?


  1. Mrs. J @ Road Less Traveled // Thursday, February 03, 2011 7:31:00 AM  

    I love using reusable bags, and my family is trying to phase out all plastic bags for shopping.

    Like you, I prefer canvas or cloth bags, and your post reinforced that for me. We plan on making our own bags for produce and bulk, too!

  2. Anonymous // Thursday, February 03, 2011 7:53:00 AM  

    My favorite grocery bags are LL Bean Boat and Totes--I have the extra large ones, and can lift them when full. You may wish to downsize if you are not so strong. They hold a cart load of groceries, are easy to load and unload because they stay open. They are useful for other activities as well, including car trips!

    The only downside is that they do take up a bit more room in your car, but then I don't forget them!

  3. Anonymous // Thursday, February 03, 2011 11:19:00 AM  

    I started using bags from ChicoBags.com, love them because I can keep a few in my purse for those times I just pop into the store. They can hold a lot and are not bulky like my canvas and store brand bags. And they are easy to clean!

  4. stayathomemummy // Friday, February 04, 2011 6:08:00 AM  

    I think reusable bags are a must. I just need to remember to take them with me! In a way I wish that supermarkets didn't offer plastic bags as then you would have no option but to remember. I think we are a very long way off this though. I didn't know lead could be found in bags - that is very worrying.
    Stacey x

  5. Dawn // Friday, February 04, 2011 6:23:00 AM  

    @Mrs J - I would like to make them as well. kinda tedious since I don't have a sewing machine.

    I also was surprised about the bags with lead. Thankfully there aren't many

  6. cha // Monday, February 07, 2011 5:08:00 AM  

    I am trying hard to use reusable (canvas ones)

    I now have them in the car so that I do not forget to get them out of the house when going shopping.

    Thanks for the information.

  7. Dawn // Tuesday, February 08, 2011 7:01:00 PM  

    Sometimes with them in the seat next to me, I still forget. Habits do form, but it takes time. Best of luck.