Those reusable “green” bags from the supermarket? It turns out half of them have unhealthy levels of lead. (And why wouldn’t they? They’re made in China.)
Despite the alarming results of TEI’s study, the toxicity of “environmentally friendly” bags has escaped real scrutiny from government officials within the bureaucracy.
One congressman did take notice.
A week after the results of the study were released, Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania sent a letter to the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Inez Tenenbaum, asking her to review the matter.
Two months later, Altmire received a reply. The gist was simple: Thanks for the concern, but the matter is out of the CPSC’s jurisdiction.
In other words, the one government agency charged with protecting consumers “against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products,” turned a blind eye when handed evidence of a product that could harm millions of consumers. While the CPSC isn’t all that powerful, it does, hold a large megaphone on consumer issues.
Altmire’s letter was also sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Neither one of those agencies acted.
Meanwhile, as the federal bureaucracy characteristically trudges along behind the rest of the country, some are starting to catch on to the dangers of reusable bags. The Tampa Tribune, for instance, did its own independent study of reusable bags in their community. Their results were the same as TEI’s – unhealthy levels of toxicity. Not only that, but the bags could actually be considered hazardous waste if they land in the garbage.
As a result of the Tribune’s study, the grocery chain Publix is revamping its line of reusable bags.
Another store to catch on was Wegmans, a major chain on the East coast. In early September, it replaced all its reusable bags after discovering some of them had up to 799 PPM.
On the other hand, some cities – fueled by their desire to “be green,” are pushing reusable bags by making plastic bags more of a hassle to consumers. Cities like D.C. and Seattle have implemented a tax on paper and plastic bags to incentivize consumers to go green.