Good for you for switching from plastic sacks to reusable grocery bags and bins! All it takes is a look around at all of those plastic bags littering the landscape to know that you've made the right choice, ecologically speaking. And if you live in certain municipalities, you may be required to pay a fee to use plastic bags, which makes it a good choice for your wallet, too.
Thing is, each reuse exposes your bags and bins to new bacteria. So keep this green lifestyle choice from backfiring on you by handling your reusable bags and bins safely:
- Separate your meat from your veg. Beef, poultry, eggs, and other animal-derived products can leak into your bags and bins and cross-contaminate other foods. In the same way that you should have a separate cutting board for animal products and fresh fruits and vegetables, so too should you keep them apart in your bags and bins. Either set aside special bags for each category of foods you buy, or else grab a plastic bag from the produce section to wrap up meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.
- Wash your bins and bags frequently. The bags that can be machine washed should be routinely run through the cycle between uses. Turn bags inside out so soap and hot water can get into the nooks and crannies in the corners. Wash bags immediately after they have been used to carry fresh produce, meat, poultry, or fish. Also, quickly wash bags that have been tainted by leaky packages or from juices or drippings. Bins and non-machine-washable bags will need a regular and thorough handwashing to keep them clear of bacteria.
- Let your bags and bins breathe. Where you store your reusable totes matters. To avoid moisture and bacteria buildup, store bags and bins in an open space instead of crammed in a closet.
- Watch where you place your bins and bags. Once packed up, bags and bins get plopped in carts, toted on shoulders, propped atop cars, and tossed in messy trunks along with spare tires. You might be transferring bacteria from outside into your home. Wipe down countertops after unloading groceries and think before settling your bags down in the parking lot while you fish your keys out of your purse.
- Consider bins over bags. The benefits of bins includes their sturdiness, reusability, and the fact that they are easy to clean and to keep dry. Bags may hold more mould-causing moisture.
- Practice proper food safety habits. Now that you have your groceries home, it's up to you to handle the food safely. Thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling food. Wash fruits and vegetables well. Keep kitchen surfaces sanitized and have plenty of laundered dishcloths or towels on hand. Store foods at safe temperatures.