Klick and Wright estimate that the San Francisco ban results in a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses, or 5.5 more of them each year. They then run through a cost-benefit analysis employing the same estimate of the value of a human life that the Environmental Protection Agency uses when evaluating regulations that are supposed to save lives. They conclude that the anti-plastic-bag policies canít pass the test -- and thatís before counting the higher health-care costs they generate.

The authors argue, not completely convincingly, against the idea that regular washing and drying of reusable bags would solve the problem. They point out that the use of hot water and detergent imposes environmental costs, too. And reusable bags require more energy to make than plastic ones. The stronger argument, it seems to me, is that 97 percent figure: Whatever the merits of regularly cleaning the bags, it doesnít appear likely to happen.

The best course for government, then, is probably to encourage people to recycle their plastic bags -- or, maybe, just let people make their own decisions. Plastic-bag bans are another on a distressingly long list of political issues where I cannot see eye to eye with Eva Longoria

Most alarmingly, the industry has highlighted news reports linking reusable shopping bags to the spread of disease. Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times last May: ďA reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girlsí soccer team in October, Oregon researchers reported Wednesday.Ē The norovirus may not have political clout, but evidently it, too, is rooting against plastic bags.

It's funny that I found this article today. I was trying to work two different departments today and a woman was worried that she forgot her "green bag" and wanted to purchase another one.

Most of these reusable bags are gross. They either reek like cig smoke, are very dirty, or you can actually see meat blood stains on them. One customer today had one with a huge tear in the side and I think it was white at one time, but it was now grey. I don't even like touching the bags, they are gross! I understand a few customers like them as it makes things easier to carry into the house, and they hold more items.

Other customers keep theirs looking like new or are shopping for more then one person, so it works out well to keep things separated. We also have a lot of snow bird that walk to my work location, and the canvas bags they can carry on their shoulder if they are out and about walking and shopping. The clean bags are the exception, not the rule.

Like the article mentions, it takes more energy to use hot water and laundry soap to keep the bags clean after a trip the grocery store, then it takes to make the bags!

Of course, this started in California. I can see California from my house.

99% of the time after I touch one of those reusable bags, I am grabbing the hand sanitizer, sometimes they even smell like pet urine and they are using them for food, drinks and prescriptions!