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Letter: Plastic bag ban would be a pain for everyone

Original post made on May 13, 2012

The stated purpose of the proposed plastic bag ban and 10-cent fee at checkout counters is to encourage shoppers to bring and use their own bags. Evidently the county government believes that plastic bags are undesirable and paper bags only slightly less so.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 13, 2012 at 8:31 am

Reusable bags play a significant role in the cross contamination of foods if not properly washed on a regular basis.

Recently in Oregon a group of school children became ill with the norovirus.

Web Link

Menlo Park has the opportunity to be a leader rather than a follower. It could institute an ordinance that allows stores to use biodegradable plastic bags and leave the decision whether to charge for these bags up to the individual store.

The "Nanny State" mentality of the Board of supervisors is widely resented by the citizens of San Mateo County. The Board of Supervisors is supposed to be working for us. Instead they are making our lives more difficult by latching on to the latest popular green craze without thinking or the repercussions of their actions. Menlo Park should resist just blindly following what the Board of Supervisors does without first thinking of the consequences of those actions.

The First Question the Menlo Park City Council should be asking is cross contamination from reusable bags worth putting its residents health at risk?

The Second Question that the Menlo Park City Council should be asking is what consumes more energy-- The mass production of a biodegradable plastic bag or washing and drying a reusable bag?

The Third Question is what do the citizens of Menlo Park want?

The Board of Supervisors rarely asks that question. It has already made up its minds that in pursuit of its supposedly environmentally responsible policy that it is worth putting it citizens’ health at risk and the inconvenience it is causing all of us. This type of stove pipe thinking is not productive. The Board of Supervisors seems to think that a clean environment, health, and what their constituents want are mutually exclusive events. They are not! I implore the Menlo Park City Council not to blindly follow the Board of Supervisors and instead think of solutions that can keep the environment clean while not jeopardizing the health of its constituents through cross-contamination and not inconveniencing them.

The Menlo Park City Council should investigate using biodegradable plastic bags as a solution and not to get interfere with store policy. The stores can decide on their own whether to charge for the bags.

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Posted by dirty bag
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hank: read the article... they were on a trip and the bag helped contaminate the group WHILE on the trip.

Would have contaminated them on that trip whether they were using a new plastic bag or a reusable plastic bag.

imo: a cloth or paper bag might have killed the virus by dehydrating it.

"Eventually, interviews revealed that most of those who became ill ate packaged cookies at a Sunday lunch. Where did the cookies come from? Turns out, the culprit was a reusable grocery bag of snacks left in the empty hotel room occupied by the first girl who got sick."

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Posted by That's Not My Bag
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

Cross contamination happens all the time. The reference Mr. Lawrence made was just one instance of cross contamination. Banning one use plastic bags will definitely raise the risk of cross contamination. The biodegradable plastic bag seems to be a sensible compromise that protects the environment, protects people's health, and does not inconvenience shoppers. This is the trifecta of reasonableness.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

People have been using eco-smart cloth shopping bags for years and years all over Europe, without any outbreaks of illness WHATSOEVER.

Everyone brings their cloth shopping bags, or the washable heaving plastic ones, with them into the market.

In most places, you can still buy 1-time use plastic bags for 10-25 cents, but very few people do this.

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Posted by Papa's got a brand new bag
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 14, 2012 at 6:54 am

The International Association for food protection says

The purpose of this study was to assess the potential for cross-contamination of food products by reusable bags used to carry groceries. Reusable bags were collected at random from consumers as they entered grocery stores in California and Arizona. In interviews, it was found that reusable bags are seldom if ever washed and often used for multiple purposes. Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. Escherichia coli were identified in 8% of the bags, as well as a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours, the number of bacteria increased 10-fold, indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags. Hand or machine washing was found to reduce the bacteria in bags by > 99.9%. These results indicate that reusable bags, if not properly washed on a regular basis, can play a role in the cross-contamination of foods. It is recommended that the public be educated about the proper care of reusable bags by means of printed instructions on the bags or through public service announcements".

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Wash Them

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Posted by Papa's got a brand new bag
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 15, 2012 at 7:17 am

Have Biodegradable plastic bags. You use more energy in washing a reusable bag than creating a one use biodegradable bag. Why do you think the glass milk bottles are nearly extinct?

People want biodegradable plastic bags; but there are these Agenda 21 types who believe that they have the right and moral obligation to tell people how to do nearly everything in their lives. Guess What? Elected officials work for the people. And we want them to do what we want. Not the other way around.

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Posted by Background Music
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Reference to Agenda 21 is most apt here. Be it plastic bag bans or high-density housing along railroad tracks because both "green" plots to control people's lives descend from that source. "Agenda 21" was unveiled in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly known as the "Rio Earth Summit". This is a truly political agenda. Although Congress never authorized the implementation of Agenda 21, President Bill Clinton, by Executive Order in 1993, established the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) for the purpose of implementing Agenda 21 in the United States. It is behind all this "green" nonsense including the sardine-like living conditions adjacent to mass transit that is proposed in the new Menlo Park Master Plan. If you're not familiar with that movement, go to and get their booklet "Understanding Sustainable Development - Agenda 21." This is a real eye-opener! The picture becomes more clear when you consider that the purpose of government stated in the U.S. Declaration of Independence is: "Protect the natural or unalienable rights of each individual" but the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights states that government exists to "Control the individual for the greater good of a global community." Uh oh!

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm

As a builder it has always been of interest to me that clients who want to build "green" do so until they find out the price. When they find out it costs tow , three times or more to build green as opposed to standards building practices, which by the pay at this point are pretty darn green, thye say no to green.

Building green has become a new way to attract clients.

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Posted by halle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I'm all for recycling. However, what does anyone suggest for picking up after our dogs??

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Posted by dirty bag
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

"what does anyone suggest for picking up after our dogs??"

how about the little biodegradable bags for sale all over the net, probably in the pet stores as well?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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