I've been slowly but surely making the transition over to reusable bags for my grocery shopping. I don't know why it's been such a struggle. Well, I may know why. The truth is, it's just so very convenient to walk into a grocery store and walk out with the disposable paper bags. I do try and find other uses for them, but they inevitably end up stacking up in my pantry until there's so many that I give up and throw them out. Ugh. Dear trees: I'm so, so sorry.

Thus, I've been earnestly buying low-cost, but reusable bags to take with me to the grocery store. I'm happy about this, but there is one very, very important to keep in mind when taking this eco-friendly step: We have to wash them from time to time. Why?

Well, not to gross you out, but as needed, you want to make sure you're cleaning out any potentially harmful bacteria that may begin to fester. For example, if you are a meat eater, and the majority of people are, you want to make sure any E.coli fodder (which comes from animal feces--UGH) and other bacteria are washed away completely. Unfortunately, these lifeforms can fester in bags that have gone unwashed for too long. The good news is, washing the bags can "reduce bacteria levels by more than 99 percent," according to a Consumer Reports study.

So, yes get those reusable bags--you'll be doing so much good for our planet. But listen: the CDC recommends throwing those fabric bags in your washing machine with detergent. If you have the plastic lined ones, be sure and clean them with hot water and soap. Take your safety measures one step further by reserving a bag for your raw meat purchases--which you'll want to put in a plastic-lined bag to prevent any leakage. Also, make sure not to leave them in your car in the heat---bacteria loves that.

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