The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

2013.04.03 Plastic bags getting a little vindication

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

About a year ago, I wrote about some researchers who found serious health risks associated with the use of those cloth shopping bags meant to replace the disposable plastic ones offered for free at many stores. A year later, a ban on plastic bags in Seattle has resulted in more evidence that sacking the single-use plastic bag may not have been the best option.

The main problem with the reusable cloth shopping bags is that they are used multiple times, allowing the accumulation of bacteria that can put your health at risk. Seattle instituted a plastic ban despite a University of Arizona study that found coliform bacteria, including E. coli, in half of the cloth bags tested “at a level significant to cause serious heath problems, even death.”

The study further found that leaving a used cloth shopping bag in a car trunk or in the sun on the back seat could cause a tenfold increase in bacteria growth in as little as two hours. Another study in Canada found bacterial contamination in 64 percent of cloth bags tested, with 40 percent testing positive for mold or yeast. A researcher added that “The presence of fecal matter in some of the reusable bags is particularly concerning.” Sounds pretty appetizing, doesn’t it?

Much of the problem results after raw meat products prone to leaking are carried in the cloth bag at the same time or prior to transporting vegetables or fruits that are then eaten uncooked. Washing the cloth bags after each use would  greatly reduce possible trouble, but factoring in the cost of water, soap and labor and the environmental impact of washing a load of dirty shopping bags every time you shop starts to tip the scale back toward the plastic bag.

The experience of San Francisco’s banning of the plastic bag in 2007 and Seattle’s ban last summer has brought up what one article called “the law of unintended consequences.” In other words, well-meaning folks banning the plastic bag in an effort to help the environment didn’t stop to fully consider the downside of the ban.

A paper was published last fall by Jonathan Klick of the University of Pennsylvania and Joshua Wright of George Mason University, finding that food-borne illnesses in San Francisco have increased by 46 percent since the banning of plastic bags in 2007. Other surrounding counties without a plastic bag ban have shown no such jump in illnesses.

Klick and Wright concluded their research by saying, “Our results suggest that the San Francisco ban led to, conservatively, 5.4 annual additional deaths.” Neither of their two main findings would make much of a case for the use of cloth shopping bags.

The plastic bag ban in Seattle started just last summer, so it’s probably a bit early for any valid research on health effects of the ban. But another of those nagging unintended consequences has already been felt by retailers—a jump in shoplifting.

The problem occurs when “customers” planning to shoplift enter a store with reusable cloth bags. The bags make it much easier to hide items they steal, and even if a store has security personnel or cameras, the customer can always claim they brought the item in with them.

The situation forces store staff to keep a closer eye on customers, a sure way to annoy those not planning to steal. A study by Seattle Public Utilities found than over 20 percent of retail businesses have seen a jump in shoplifting after he introduction of the plastic bag ban.

One Seattle couple who run a grocery store say they’ve lost $3,000 to $4,000 in frozen food plus at least $5,000 in produce to theft since the plastic bag ban. They didn’t even mention losses in laundry detergent, baby items, pharmaceuticals  and alcohol, four of the items most popular among thieves.

The cloth bags seem to have become such an aid to shoplifters that I can’t help but wonder if shoplifters steal them as well. If caught, they could claim they brought all their bags with them as they planned to “buy” a lot of items. 

If any more evidence against cloth shopping bags comes to light, it might result in a demand to ban them and return to plastic bags. Remember, if cloth shopping bags are outlawed, only outlaws will have cloth shopping bags. You heard it here first.

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