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Plastic bags pollute, reusable bags poison. Great.

By Melissa Bell
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(Janine Lamontagne)

It seemed like such a small yet successful step toward ecological righteousness when the reusable shopping bag took grocery stores by storm last year. A 5-cent tax on plastic bags encouraged folks to bring their own bags and suddenly reusable bags became a trendy fashion accessory of their own.

Now, 10 months later, the solution turns out to be a problem of its own. A Florida newspaper has commissioned a series of independent laboratory tests and found that some of the reusable bags on the market have a hazardous amount of lead in them.

The lead likely won't rub off on food, but it could cause environmental damage as the bags break down over time. The Tampa Tribune found that certain bags had more lead than the Environmental Protection Agency would find acceptable to be disposed in landfills.

The report encouraged Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to seek a federal investigation into the allegations.

"When our families go to the grocery store looking for safe and healthy foods to feed their kids, the last thing they should have to worry about are toxic bags," Schumer said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

Like Kermit the Frog says, it ain't easy being green. Yep, I went there.

By Melissa Bell  | November 15, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

The small scale of pollution that these bags will cause, especially when the life-cycle of use is relatively long, is clearly an inappropriate use of media attention. There are far more pressing forms of pollution caused by the items we use daily. For example, plastics now consume an area twice the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean - yet this problem will not be substantially investigated or mitigated due to the entrenchment of the material good in our life and daily consumption patterns. If the trade off were measured by mass and toxicity, the tons of co2 and pure mass of the pastic would surely out way degradation caused by the lead.

Posted by: jcherson | November 16, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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